Saturday, May 29, 2010

Use What You Got

After a trip to the zoo, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to make animals out of the petals from the 'foam flowers' my girls used to pre-decorate our Christmas tree in this post.

So, I went to gather some simple supplies: sequins, pipe cleaners and googly eyes. The rest was supplied by imagination.

The girls started with two horses and a ladybug:

Then B went on to other free form objects. A 'playground' and a 'roller coaster':

Followed by a hot air balloon and a 'sum-barine' (known to most as a submarine):

Finally, my spider and butterfly:

By the way, do NOT leave B in the room with a new tube of foam glue. Very sticky ending to an otherwise fun craft!

Bonjour Butterflies...

You'll never guess who went to a 'Fancy Nancy' party this weekend.

They were all decked out with sunglasses, tulle skirts, pink boas and gloves, and the birthday girls' mom even laid down a red carpet for them to strut their stuff.

I think even Fancy Nancy would agree that they looked tres chic, non?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today's Inspiration III: Got Buttons?

Back at Christmas in 2008, I made a batch of apple butter in honor of my mother-in-law. She had introduced me to it the summer prior, and when the holidays rolled around, I figured that would make a thoughtful, homemade gift for her to enjoy past the holidays. Then, for Christmas 2009, she filled the same jelly jar with a giant bunch of funky buttons for me to ooh and ahh over.

Surprisingly, it only took me 5 months to make something with them! Thanks to Amy Cluck's tutorial on Style Crush, I put together a cute creation that I sent to my mother-in-law for Mother's Day.

Very simply, pick out any buttons that stack up (snipping off the 'shank' on the back of the button if necessary) and glue them in size order on a ring form. You can pick up a ring form at any crafting store that sells jewelry making supplies. Then let your masterpiece dry. Told you it was simple!

Just to make the presentation a little fancier before sending it in the clear-topped tin you see above, I punched out a 2 inch flower from bright pink cardstock. Then I slit an opening in the middle of the flower with an exacto knife to "plant" the button ring in the center.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brunch Idea: This Frittata is Delish

Mother's Day is almost upon us. Traditionally, brunch is in order. If you are planning a brunch and are in need of a tasty main dish, this is a recipe I tweaked from Gourmet.

Their version requires a few vegetables to be steamed, then shocked in ice water. Breaking news: blanching is NOT a flavor booster! Plus, why would I want to create more dishes to wash by using a steaming pan and a bowl of ice water? I say, you're already using a saute pan for the peppers and onions anyway, just saute the other vegetables and pump up the flavor at the same time.

Speaking of flavor, my version has the addition of parmesan cheese, because in my opinion, you just gotta have cheese! Lastly, I share with you a tip that I learned from Emeril Lagasse (over the many years I served as his couch potato apprentice). In any dish that has multiple layers, you need to season each layer as you go. It makes SUCH a difference in the final outcome.

Spring Vegetable Frittata

1 pound thin asparagus
2 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)
3 shallots, minced
1 medium zucchini, semi-peeled and diced
3 scallions
12 large eggs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
1/2 cup heavy cream
¾ cup parmesan cheese, divided
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. WAIT to preheat oven (to 350°F) until all your vegetables have been washed and prepped.

2. Trim asparagus from the stalky ‘breaking point’, then slice what remains into 1 inch pieces. Dice the bell peppers and mince shallots. Peel the zucchini, partially, leaving thin strips of green for color, and cut into small dice. Trim the scallions and slice thinly. Wash, pat dry and chop the parsley (not too finely).

3. Melt a half tablespoon of butter in a nonstick sauté pan. Add the diced bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until lightly browned, 5 or 6 minutes. Remove to a bowl.

4. Add the other half tablespoon of butter to same pan. Sauté the asparagus and scallions for two minutes, then add the minced shallots and diced zucchini. Season all with salt and pepper, then sauté for another two to three minutes.

5. Now preheat your oven, and butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish (3-quart).

6. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, cream, parsley, and ½ cup of the parmesan cheese. Pour this custard into the baking dish. Evenly distribute the vegetables over the egg mixture. Sprinkle with another few grinds of pepper, if desired.

7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on the final ¼ cup of parmesan cheese, then bake for another 15 minutes until golden and set.

8. Cool frittata on a rack briefly before slicing. Serves 12.

Time Saver: You can make this frittata a day ahead, then refrigerate it after it has cooled completely. Rewarm in a 200°F oven for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Now put your feet up, pour yourself a mimosa, and enjoy your brunch with the ones you love.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Super Simple Paper Pyramids

These paper pyramids are so simple. I promise! They make great table favors at any party, or because they are so inexpensive to make, you can fill a bunch and give them as gifts during Teacher Appreciation Week!
First, find a brightly decorative paper that you like. Cut into rectangles that are 4"x6". One 12"x12" square scrapbook page will make 6 pyramids.

Use double-sided tape one one of the short ends, then roll the paper up like a toilet paper tube.

LOTS of tubes to fill!!

Pinch one end and fold over to close.

Fill your pyramid with tasty treats. (This size pyramid holds 6 Hershey's Kisses.)

Next, pinch the other end, but in the reverse direction (ie, if your first side is folded over in a north-south sense, the other end will be folded in an east-west sense).

Optional embellishment: Punch a hole in one end's fold. Cut a piece of ribbon 6-7" in a coordinated color.
Pull both ends throught the hole, then pull the two loose ends throught the loop you created to keep it in place. Voila!