The Summer Salad for the Resolution

My resolution for 2014 will be to kick it back into high gear with getting healthy. Doing that, I’ve been looking up a lot of healthy recipes to diversify my meals. I like routine, and the same goes for my food. My coworkers even joke about my carrots and peppers since I eat them every day. I am a Chiver, but I found “The Berry” which is like Chive for girls. They have a daily motivation thread and I found this recipe. I was sooo excited to try it out! I modified the recipe for a single salad as the ingredients were for a large salad for multiple people. It’s more of a summer salad, but who cares when it comes to deliciousness?!

Ingredients (measurements for a large salad)
– 1 bunch chopped basil
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
– 1 cup mozzarella balls KB Note: I just used sliced mozzarella and pulled it apart
– 2 cups sliced strawberries

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Dress with olive oil (not necessary in my opinion), balsamic vinaigrette, and sea salt.
3. EAT ALL THE TIME.

OBSESSION.

OBSESSION.

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The Teacup Ornaments

This was my gift for my other grandmother! Another Pinterest idea (obviously!) but there weren’t real instructions so I won’t send a link. I found the teacups on Amazon and they came in a set of 4. I broke one in the trial run, so I ended up with one less for myself.

What You Need
– Teacups
– Porcelain drill bit
– Ribbon
– Bells

Directions
1. You MUST use a porcelain drill bit. Masonry drill bits won’t get you anywhere. I actually broke a drill bit on the trial run! Home Depot or Lowes will definitely have one.

Porcelain Drill Bit

Porcelain Drill Bit

2. Find the center of the cup, and drill. You might want to keep some water running over the area (almost like a wet saw) because the drill bit will get suuper hot. It did take some time, it’s harder than you’d think to drill through the bottom of a teacup.

In process of drilling through

In process of drilling through

All three are ready!

All three are ready!

3. Move onto the ribbon and bell next. Make sure you cut a good amount of ribbon as this is what you’ll use to hang the teacup on the tree. I found rolling the ribbon made it easier to get the bell on.
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And then tie a knot about 1.5 inches above the bell so that the ribbon doesn’t get pulled up through the hole when it’s on the tree.

Inside view for the knot

Inside view for the knot

4. This part was a little trickier as I tried getting both ends of the ribbon through that super tiny hole you drilled. I just tried folding and rolling the ends together and pushing it through and grabbing the tiny piece that poked through. You have to get both ends through at the same time because it would be seriously impossible to get one through at a time.
5. Once the ends are through, you’ll make a knot and bow. Make sure it’s very tight so it doesn’t come loose!

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6. And if you want, add a little something to the inside!!

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The Best Christmas Gift

I think this is one of my favorite gifts I have ever given. My parents are starting the process of building their retirement home in the Poconos, and the house has a distinctly rustic theme. My brother and I were talking about what we were giving the parents for Christmas and we realized there were a lot of “wood” items this year. I found the idea on Pinterest here,  http://dollarstorecrafts.com/2009/07/make-a-rustic-wood-cake-stand/. I bought my cross section on Amazon though because I had some gift card balance left, this is the one I went with:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VRYIY6/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1. If you’re going to make this, keep in mind it needs to sit and dry for at least 24-48 hours without being moved.

What you need
– 1 cross section
– 1 log base
– Wood glue and/or silicon
– Polyurethane (with face masks!)
– Sand paper, level, and potentially a circular saw

Directions
1. I went over to my friend’s house since I knew he’d invariably have a log in his wood pile that would work. We made a night of it and I had dinner there with him and his girlfriend, but he also cut the log I chose down to size for me. I chose one that flared out at the bottom because I thought it would be aesthetically nicer. Be careful when cutting the log and try to make the cut as straight as possible to cut down on work later on in the process.
2. My log was not level on the top end and I thought sanding it would be the way to go – turns out it wasn’t. I would have been there for months sanding this down. I called my dad and asked him if he would have time to help me with it when I was back up at their house since I doubted my little Ryobi jigsaw would do the job.

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3. Since the difference in height was only about 1/8th of an inch my dad tried using the belt sander first. We worked on it for a while, then took it inside, found a pretty level spot on the downstairs bar, and measured – it was still way off.
4. We used the circular saw next after dad made some marks on the log for where to cut. Two rounds later, we were set.

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5. Now that everything was pretty perfectly level we moved it into the workshop where it would sit for the next couple days. We put beads of silicon around the outer rim of the log and wood glue near the center and positioned the cross section in the right spot.
6. The last step is the polyurethane, this is to protect the wood and food from each other. I got the spray because it said fast drying and I’m impatient, but my dad told me for something this dense you’d want the stuff that comes in a can and basically paint it on.

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If you use the spray can make sure you wear a face mask so you don’t breathe it in. We followed the directions and did a coat every 1.5-2 hours until the can was empty. We probably did more than the can suggested but it needed a lot of poly.
7. Let dry and enjoy!

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Sorry there’s no “finished” picture – Dad is going to add another coat of poly on the top to ensure it’s coated well.

The Jam for Grandma

It’s a tradition of sorts for me and one of my grandmothers that one of her gifts each Christmas is my spiced apricot jam. This stuff is pretty delicious and it makes the house smell sooo good! This recipe makes approximately 6 cups (So good for making six 1/2 pint jars). Mine only made 4 this time around because I reduced it so much.

Ingredients
– Roughly 1 lb dried apricots
– 1 1/2 quarts water
– 2 cinnamon sticks
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– Approx. 1 lb, or 2 1/2 cups sugar. I use castor sugar, but brown sugar is fine too.
– 2 tbsp lemon juice
Optional extra: 2 cloves and 4 cardamom pods, to be added along with the cinnamon. – KB Note: I haven’t included this before but I bet it would be delicious.

Directions
1. Soak the apricots in water overnight.
2. Put the apricots and soaking water into a large heavy-based saucepan, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, stir in the ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks, and simmer gently for 15 minutes until the apricots are nice and softened. Stir occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, put a small plate in the freezer to chill, as you will need this later to check the setting point of your jam.
4. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir frequently until mixture comes to the boil. Leave to simmer gently, stirring occasionally for 40 minutes. KB Note: I generally let it reduce into a thick syrup for much, much longer than 40 minutes – more like 2 hours!!

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5. Check if the jam has reached set. To do this, put a tsp of jam onto the cooled plate. Allow jam to cool, and then draw a line through the jam with your finger. If the jam stays separated, it is ready. If not, continue to simmer the jam for another 10 minutes and then re-check. Continue this method until you are happy with the consistency of your jam.
6. Once I like the consistency of the jam I pour it all into a large food processor. I personally don’t like jam with massive chunks of fruit in it because it’s too hard to spread, so I chop up the apricots. Not necessary for the recipe, though!
7. Meanwhile, prepare your jars. The best way is a nice hot wash in the dishwasher. Or you can wash out some jars with hot soapy water and allow to dry upside-down on a rack. Before use, pour some boiling water inside the jars to sterilize them.
8. Ladle the jam from the food processor (if you chose to do this step) into your jars, up to 1/2 inch from the top. I like to keep the cinnamon sticks – I think they look pretty in the jar. Remove the cloves and cardamom pods though, if you added them. Put on the lid, and turn jars upside-down for 5 minutes to seal and sterilize the lids. Then turn upright and allow to cool.

All set to be packaged!

All set to be packaged!

The Fight Night App

Hey folks, sorry for the long delay in posts but I couldn’t post all the projects I was doing because they were all Christmas gifts! This recipe I found on Pinterest and it looked SO delicious!! My boyfriend told me that his friends were having a get together for the big UFC fight this past weekend, and I don’t believe in showing up somewhere empty handed. This seemed like a good appetizer we could bring and share with everyone. And was it ever easy! The post called it “Bloomin’ Onion Bread” which isn’t my favorite nickname but it’s pretty apt.

Bloomin’ Onion Bread
Ingredients
– 1 loaf of regular bread – KB Note: I’m sure you could get crazy and use a Ciabatta or rosemary loaf, I think rosemary might be my next variation
– 16 oz Monterey jack cheese
– 1 stick of butter
– 1 bunch of scallions/green onions
– Dash of ground black pepper
– Dash of garlic salt
KB Note – Next time I make this I will 100% be added chopped bits of pancetta. This recipe is screaming for some smoky meat flavor!!

Directions
1. Cut loaf of bread into sections that look easy to pull apart, not too big so that the pieces won’t end up cheesey and not too small so that the pieces crumble apart. I would recommend cutting the bread on the baking sheet because it is tricky to move after it’s cut.
2. Cut your cheese relatively thin and small because you’re going to be putting the cheese in the cuts you made in your bread.
3. Insert the cheese into the bread, try to get cheese into every space. In the center of the loaf where it’s thicker make sure you add more cheese.

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4. Cut your scallion thinly as they will be mixed into your butter. You don’t want someone to get a big chunk of scallion stuck in their teeth!
5. Mix your butter, chopped scallions, pepper, and garlic salt together.

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6. Once well mixed, use a spatula to spread the butter-scallion mixture on top of the bread. Try to make sure you get the mixture evenly spread around the entire loaf.

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KB Note: When I add the pancetta next time I will sprinkle it on top of the loaf after putting the butter mixture on.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for roughly 20 minutes or until golden brown. I unfortunately didn’t time it because we were cutting it close to leave.

I also forgot to take a picture before we hustled out of the house, but it should look like this!

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