Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rainy Day Tea Party

This event sort of happened by accident. And by accident, I mean, I got carried away, felt like baking, and it served as a great excuse to pull together an adorable table. Oops.

I invited a friend over for tea one afternoon. She is a new friend and hadn't been over to my place or met my #2 man (Winston, #1 is obviously bf). We bonded over silly cat stories, which is why I wanted her to meet him (I don't usually arrange introductions for my cat, I'm not that much of a crazy cat lady). We also both love tea, so I figured it would be a nice afternoon.

Then I decided we needed a little something to nibble on while having tea. But since I wasn't sure what mood I'd be in or if she liked coconut, I thought I better have two options (plus I wanted to try two recipes- yay for baking excuses!).

Once I had my goodies baked, I felt like they needed a pretty back drop. So out came a few napkins, small plates and my glass plate to hold the desserts.

Since it was originally all about the tea, I brought out my pretty mugs.

But what if I wanted water? Or something else to drink? (Totally absurd and irrational, I know, I think I didn't feel like sleeping, so I just kept going). I have had this gorgeous Goodwill find for over a year now and I've never used it. I originally convinced bf it was a good thing for me to bring home because it was so practical, so it was about time I put it to good use. Along with some lemons. Because they are pretty and fancy. Good lord, I'm absurd.

Anyway, I'm almost done, I swear. While I was at the store, I was thinking to myself, how nice a few little posies would look on the table. So, I grabbed a bunch of daisies and trimmed to stems to create this cheery arrangement. I love it.

Here is my final table.

Here is my table getting photo bombed.

Oh, and since it was raining, I had a little fire going. I feel like all the day needed was a copy of Pride and Prejudice, muslin dresses and a few British accents and Jane Austen would have come back to life. Which, if you know me at all, you'll know that it was a perfect sort of day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Bookshelf Art

Most of this art is courtesy of family members and awesome Christmas presents. I'm just woefully behind in sharing it with you.

My sister took this hilarious little picture while she was studying in South Africa last year. It's a little fat bird on top of a gigantic mountain. For some reason I think it's so funny. It just makes me giggle every time I see it.
The picture to the left of the lamp is a calendar print. My parents gave me the set for Christmas and I picked up a frame on major sale at Michael's. Like $4 maybe.
This print is the January picture.

Here is the February print which I just updated. I love it! One of my favorite things about these prints is that they allow me to see which colors I would like to introduce more of into my space. Green is at the top of the list!

Here is the entire calendar set, if anyone is interested!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Additional Kitchen Storage

So I finally bought a shelf thingy I was looking at for the kitchen. It was from Ikea and as Ikea stuff goes it's actually really sturdy. I was quite impressed when I put it together. Of course I got photo bombed. If you can believe it, I did not put him in the shelf. I looked up and he was there.

 I used two of these screws to install the shelving unit because the shelves are shocking heavy even though they don't look that big.
 They are pretty awesome actually. You hammer them into the wall and then unscrew the screw and re-screw it with the shelves in between.
 I screwed the shelf into the wall. Let me tell you it was no easy process doing it by myself. Because I had hold it up while standing on a chair and screw the screws into the wall. As you can probably see, it's a little crooked. Pisses me off to no end because I even used a level. But I guess hanging it straight while holding it up was just too much for 5' 3" me.
I filled up the shelves with some of my containers, but the bottom shelf was looking a little empty.
Much better.
 The very bottom has my food coloring, two spice mixes and the toothpicks.
 The second shelf has the vanilla beans and lentils.
 The next shelf has vanilla extract, whole nutmeg, and cloves.
The top shelf has quinoa and walnuts. It is so nice to clear up some additional space in the pantry, not that there is much space anyway. But any little bit help right?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad

This recipe is the last of my quinoa-filled week. I promise. But I wanted you to see how easy it was to throw all three of these recipes together once the quinoa was already cooked. And all of the recipes make so much! Seriously, I was having leftovers for days (which is exactly how I like it).

Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad
recipe from here

1/2 C. dry quinoa (or 1 cup cooked)
2 C. vegetable broth
1 can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1 c. cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 avocados diced
2 C. spinach
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 C. onion
2 small cloves garlic

Juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. cumin
dash of salt and pepper

Here is my massive pot of quinoa that lasted all week.
 Next, I made the dressing. I made this recipe a little out of the suggested order because I was starved and wanted to eat as soon as it was done and didn't want to wait to let the flavors settle.
 So I put the quinoa, tomatoes, and avocado in a bowl. Then I poured the dressing over the ingredients and mixed. This idea worked great because the dressing really soaked into the avocado and quinoa.
 Then I chopped. And chopped. And chopped. I don't have a cuisinart, which would be the best way to prepare the next few steps. But basically, I chopped up the cilantro and then the spinach. Next, I chopped the onion and the garlic and added it to the greens.
Then I added the chickpeas to all of my chopped goods and mixed to cover the chickpeas.
Next, I added the green-chickpea mixture to the other bowl and stirred to incorporate.
So delicious! And fantastically healthy, but you'd never know it by tasting the incredible flavors.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Olive, Parsley

I mentioned yesterday that I had made several recipes with quinoa last week. It actually worked quite splendidly. See, I made a ton of quinoa one afternoon and then just kept it in the fridge and gradually used it throughout the week. It made the recipes so quick and effortless-definitely a technique I would recommend in the future. This recipe initially through me for a bit of a loop because I was having trouble making the cakes, but in the end, I think I came up with something even better.

Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Olive, Parsley
recipe from Love and Olive Oil

1 1/2 cups raw quinoa (3 cups cooked)
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup coarsely chopped green or kalamata olives (I ended up using more because I love them)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoon olive oil

 I started by whisking the eggs and then setting them aside.
 Then, in a large bowl, I combined everything but the eggs, water and olive oil.
 I tossed it all together then added the eggs and mixed until it was moist.
 Then I added the water and mixed again.
I made my first batch of cakes with a 1/2 cup scooper.
 I had some trouble flipping one of them. I learned you really don't want them to touch the side as you are flipping them because it makes them totally fall apart.
 The other ones turned out alright. See how they are nice and browned on each side?
So these cakes were my dinner one night. But since the mix makes so much, I had the dinner another night.

This time, I tried using 1/4  measuring cup to see if the smaller cakes would hold up better. They didn't. I think you would need a very shallow measuring cup or use a large cup and only fill it up a little bit. I think thin cakes would hold up a lot better. Either that or you need more eggs or water or something to hold them together. But as I was sitting there cursing my stupid mess, it occurred to me that this whole process looked a little like the last step of making fried rice. So, I crumbled up my remaining cakes and decided to make a sort of fried quinoa. I actually loved it. I think it's even better than the cakes because you have a wonderful crunch to more of the quinoa. I will go straight to this step next time. It was delicious and so healthy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Almond-Cranberry Quinoa Cookies (Breakfast Cookies)

The other day I saw this recipe in the latest Bon Appetit magazine and I was intrigued. Breakfast cookies you say? I'm all about having dessert for breakfast, I believe it's the breakfast of champions. But a dessert that's intended for breakfast? I had to at least give it a shot. Since there were several things I wanted to make with quinoa anyway, I figured I would make them all in the same week and hit three birds with one stone.

I have to same, I had some pretty low expectations and I was so pleasantly surprised. These are so delicious and really have a great breakfasty flavor. I know that doesn't make much sense. I think it's the almond extract- it makes them seem almost like biscotti. They are also fabulous with tea as an afternoon snack. The recipe does make a fair number, so I froze some and occasionally pop them out of the fridge and into the microwave for a snack. So yummy.

Almond-Cranberry Quinoa Cookies
recipe from Bon Appetit

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey (I used Agave nectar because I was out of honey, worked great)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered unsalted almonds

In a small bowl, I whisked together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
 In a large bowl, I mixed together the butter, agave nectar, and both sugars.
I added the eggs and the extracts and mixed again.
 Next, I added the flour in small batches and mixed in between each addition.
Once all of the flour mixture was incorporated, I added the oats, quinoa, cranberries and almonds and stirred until all mixed together.
Using a spoon, I scooped balls of dough onto a parchment paper-covered baking tray (about 2 tablespoons of dough per ball). I baked each tray for 12-15 minutes until the cookies were just beginning to turn golden brown around the edges. I let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the tray, then transferred them to a rack to completely cool.
I have to say, I'm usually not a fruit and cookie girl. I like my fruit and I like my cookies, but not together. But these babies are seriously making me a convert, I can't stop eating them!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Christmas Lamp

I've had my eye on this lamp (the one on the right) from Pottery Barn for months. It's absolutely gorgeous and just what I wanted to give the room a little sparkle.  It's also big enough to make a statement without taking over the entire room. But it's pricey. Not crazy extravagant, but more than I wanted to spend on a lamp. And certainly outside my graduate student lamp budget. So I kept looking. And looking. And looking. But nothing compared and I never found something I liked as much as the original. So my wonderful brother and sister-in-law bought it for me for Christmas. Amazing family? Yes.

Then I started the hunt for a lamp shade. I really didn't want to spend $50 plus on the shade PB recommended. But I wanted one just like it. So I looked. And looked. Notice a theme? Good news is I'm getting more patient with my apartment choices. But this time my patience was rewarded. I walked into Target the other day and found the most perfect shade. Best part? Only $25. Winning.

Here is what the shelf looks like with the new addition.
 Here is the detail of the lamp up close. Even better in person than online. Seriously, I want to touch it every time I pass by. Creepy? Perhaps a little.
 And from farther out. The top of the book case is still a major work in progress.
Because I re-did the left side of the bookcase, I had to re-do the right as well. So here is how that looks right now. Also a work in progress.

 And since it's primarily on at night, here is how it looks when it's on when it's dark. Doesn't it just sparkle?
I love how it glows. Ok, enough gushing over a lamp. I'm done I swear.