Monthly Archives: June 2012

What is a Homemaker Really Worth?

In Today’s society homemakers are unfortunately often looked at as lazy women who sit around the house doing nothing. With ignorant statements like the one which said Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life,” it is clear that women are only considered hard-working if they bring home a paycheck and leave their kids at daycare. Not that I am an advocate for the Romney’s or that I’m against women working; What I have a problem with is people thinking that raising children, keeping a home, and being a wife are all just useless hobbies with no value. Well here’s an interesting little breakdown of exactly how much it would cost to do all the things that Homemakers really do! Interesting thought. Is it close? What do you think?

pour-olive-pil-over-hummus-homemakerchic.com

How to Make Homemade Hummus

I once tried to make hummus but it didn’t turn out well. I was using a small hand blender in a bowl and things did no go as planned. For whatever reason (I cannot pinpoint exactly why) I’ve been resisting buying a blender for some time, but today I found a blender on sale at Target for $30 and I said to myself “why the heck not?”

I have an Israeli friend named Mallie who loves mediterranean food and is always sharing recipes with me. She told me the key to good hummus (she pronounces it hoo-mousse) is Tahini, which is pure ground sesame seeds and it is a glorious, velvety, saucy sort of substance. I picked it up at a local organic market but my mother swears she’s seen it at Publix. You can probably pick it up at any decent supermarket in the ethnic or Jewish foods section.So armed with my new blender and a few simple ingredients I set out to make a delicious snack. You can do it too!

Here’s what you need:

This recipe makes 2.5 cups or 5 half cup snack servings.

2 16oz cans of chickpeas

3 Tbsp Tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

3-4 Tbsp Crushed Garlic or Garlic Paste

A few pinches of salt

Here’s what you do: (brace yourself for the difficulty!)

Drain the chickpeas and set aside the liquid. Add the chickpeas, squeezed lemon, garlic, and salt to the blender and pour 1/2 cup of the liquid over the top.

Blend until smooth and gorgeous.

I was a bit heavy handed on the tahini which I don’t recommend unless you are a big fan of the sesame flavour (which I am not.) Too much tahini and your hummus will be a bit nutty. I added more garlic because I love garlic. Once you have your basic hummus, you can add so many cool ingredients like black olives or roasted red peppers. This is where you can get really creative!

I like to have snack sized portions for Adam (he’s my giant child :)), so I divided the hummus into small gladware bowls and poured a little olive oil on top of each.

Store them in the fridge and when its snack time, warm up some pita bread in the oven or dip fresh carrots or celery into the hummus. Its a delicious and healthy snack! It so easy to make you have no excuse to buy storebrand again. Let me know how it goes.

Wine and Cheese Make Everything Better

Its been raining in Florida for days. Tropical storm Debby has made it rather dark and crummy around here. I don’t know if its the weather or if I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed but I’ve not felt myself today. Sometimes when I’m having a bad day there is only one thing that can help. No not xanax… a good indoor picnic with great wine and cheeses. Paired with a little Midnight and Paris and I was right as rain. Try it, I promise you’ll feel better :).

I had some fresh goat cheese, parmesan and sliced pear.

 

You definitely need some good french bread for crostinis…

 

And some gourmet jams and jellys. I’m totally into fig jam right now.

Jamaican Shrimp Rundown Stew

I’ve mentioned before that the best thing I tasted all weekend at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival this year was the Rundown from Father/Son Chef Duo Chef Norman Van Aken and Chef Justin Van Aken.I couldn’t wait to try this dish at home. Justin kindly emailed me the recipe which will be included in their collaborative cookbook My Key West Kitchen due for publishing this fall. You can preorder on Amazon which I highly recommend because the writing is every bit as charming as the recipes. I’m lucky to call the Van Aken family friends, and they have amazing stories that everyone will love.

As with every recipe, I took what inspiration I needed and made it my own. The first time I made this dish it was as a side dish with some snapper Adam had caught. It was so amazingly delicious and full of flavour that I knew it could share the spotlight with none, so I transformed it into this amazing traditional jamaican stew that you will just love- plus it has coconut milk and you KNOW how into coconut milk I am! I dont know for sure but it has to be pretty low fat because there’s no butter or heavy cream, just amazing flavours. Also, a little fun fact- the reason it is called a “rundown” is because the people would make this when they were rundown on money. Love it! (This recipe is my version)

What you’ll need:

1 lb Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
4-5 Red Potatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
About a cup of diced sweet peppers, different colors
Half of a red or vidalia onion
1 Tbsp sugar
Cayenne Pepper
Curry Powder
Creole Seasoning (like Tony Chatchere’s)
Garlic
Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil

What to do:
Slice the potatoes into half moon pieces. I don’t know why but I’m a big fan of the half moon potato. Par boil them in salted water until mostly cooked (about 20 minutes). While your potatoes are boiling begin cooking the onions on low heat with a little olive oil (and butter too if you like). You want to bring out the sweetness of the onions so let them slowly release their sugars, don’t saute them. Once they’ve gotten nice and sweet and soft add the garlic and sweet peppers. You can bring the heat up a bit and cook until the peppers are softer (they don’t have to be completely cooked). By this point your potatoes should be ready. Drain them and return to a medium-large sized pot. Add the onion mix to the potatoes along with the entire can of coconut milk, the can of tomatoes (don’t drain), the sugar and all the seasoning. As far as the seasoning goes I can’t tell you exactly how much to add, its all about taste. I will say that you want to be generous with the curry and black pepper. I like a spicy stew so I add about a teaspoon of cayenne. I found that as the stew cook the heat of the cayenne mellows, so if you like spicy you can keep adding it to taste. Let this cook for a good thirty minutes so all the flavours can get down and dirty. Add the shrimp then let cook for about another 10-15 minutes. Serve with large spoons and enjoy!

P.S. Next time I think I will serve this with a polenta roll as a sort of play on shrimp and grits. Let me know if you try this and do send pics!

A Bike Ride in Dunedin

When Adam and I moved to Clearwater we had every intention of riding bikes on the Pinellas Trail, but when he hurt his back during our move wehad to shelf our dreams of being Mr. and Mrs. Tour du France. Well he is finally better and last night we finally, one year later, took the bikes out for a lovely evening in Dunedin!

For dinner we stopped at Sea Sea Riders at the corner of Alt 19 and Main Street. I’ve seen this place a thousand times but never stopped in. Well let me tell you, if you have not had the chance to dine at this charming Old Florida spot you are missing out! Our server, Ashley, was knowledgeable, attentive, and friendly. The atomosphere is very Key West (which I know a lot about since I was JUST there). It reminded me of an old ship on the inside, and a lovely Key West porch on the outside.

We also spotted a Dunedin Orange Painting which in this town might as well be a Banksy. If you’ve ever been to this little beach town you’ve seen the lovely grafitti which is the work of local artist Steven Spathelf

We sat on the porch and took in the lovely view of the bay and the Dunedin marina. Adam ordered a Salmon BLT (which didn’t sound very good to me) and he said the salmon didn’t have a lot of flavour but that it was fine. I personally wouldn’t have ordered that, so I’m not going to discredit them, lol. We heard the black bean chili was the best in town so we had a bowl of it, and scarfed it down before I could get a picture! It was delicious! You could tell that it was homemade.

 

I ordered the Vanilla Rum Glazed Grouper with Macadamia nut brittle, spiced grilled pineapple, red curry coconut cream sauce and wild rice. It was heavenly! The Macadamia brittle was delightfully crunchy and sweet, and the coconut cream sauce was superb. I could have eaten it as a soup.

After dinner we headed over to Stachan’s (pronounced Strawns) which is THE BEST ice cream shop I’ve ever been to. Their ice cream is out of this world.

Just as we were finishing our ice cream the sun was beginning to set so we pedaled down to the marina to catch the glorious sunset over the bay. It was magnificent. The pictures just don’t do it justice. A perfect ending to the perfect date. I love living here. Sometimes I just can’t believe how beautiful it is.

Homemaker: A Woman Worthy of Praise

Well first things first, did you all totally love Jennie’s guest post? I cannot WAIT to make that amazing recipe! She’s such a doll. Be sure you follow her on twitter and subscribe to her blog. She is always cooking up yummy treats.

One big thing I want to advocate with my blog is family. I was talking to Adam last night about Martha Stewart (who I LOVE, so don’t hate). I learned so much of what I know about homemaking from her. She is the world’s most famous homemaker but she is unfortunately also known for being harsh, snobby, and rude. She has no husband, and a single daughter who she does not appear to be particularly close with. Though she often had family members like her mom, siblings and nephews, on the show there was always a certain warmth missing.

For me, the reason homemaking is so important is because it brings families together. The homemaking woman is always thinking about how she can better serve those around her, and she is loved because of it. She should be charming and kind and thoughtful. She should never be so worried about all the duties of running a home that she forget to love and nurture those around her.

I never want this blog to just be about the content. When I’m not writing I’m lovingly creating meals for my husband, planning parties for my family, cleaning and decorating my home, studying and learning so I can one day educate my children, dreaming of the day when I will have a bunch of babies to teach and care for. I want this blog to encourage women everywhere to not just cook, sew, craft, bake, clean, decorate, and plan. I want you ladies to be sweet and lovely, and worthy of praise.

People often use the words “housewife” and “homemaker” interchangeably. I don’t care for the term housewife because it gives the connotation that she is sitting around the house doing nothing.

A homemaker is very busy!!

Consider this passage from the bible. It talks about a woman who sounds a whole lot like a homemaker to me. She sews, cooks, runs a business (AND makes profit!), she is fashionable, wise and takes care of everyone in her household. If this were written today I’m pretty certain there would be an added verse that said, “She diligently searches Pinterest and reads blog for new ideas for the home.”

I hope this describes me, that is what I strive for. Does it describe you?

Proverbs 31:10-31 (New Living Translation)

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

13 She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.

22 She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. (<- She is homemaker CHIC!)
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Guest Post: Coconut Pineapple Icecream

Lately I’ve been meeting so many new friends through my blog. I love being part of the food blogging world because everyone is so happy and friendly. Probably because of all the amazing food! Its been a little while since I’ve done a dessert post so when I came across The Messy Baker Blog I just knew I had to have Jennie do a sweet and delicious guest post. Since I’ll be in Key West this weekend Jennie has whipped up a lovely tropical treat! Enjoy :)

____________________________________________________________

Hi, all. I’m Jennie from The Messy Baker, and I’m thrilled to be guest posting for Noelle while she’s busy doing her thing. Now, I’m not as crafty as Noelle, but I do know a thing or two about sweets. Do you know that this girl can sew? Like fix a pair of heels, sew! Um, color me jealous, because when my shoes break, there’s no fixing them. They go straight to shoe heaven.

I think you’re going to love what I made for all of you. It’s coconut pineapple ice cream, *squeal!* It’s just about the best ice cream I have ever had… Ever! It’s all smooth and creamy and down right satisfying on a scorching summer day. And, if that’s not good enough for ya, chunks of pineapple and coconut get swirled into the mix. Yum!

I’ve very busy, so I had to wait a week until I could actually eat this ice cream because it had to be photographed first. Being a food blogger can be rough sometimes. Knowing that this ice cream was being held hostage in my freezer until I took a picture of it killed me. I wanted to gobble this down as soon as it came out of the ice cream machine. Needless to say, it was a rough 7 days.

I toasted up some big flakes of coconut and added it to the top for an extra pop of coconut flavor. I’m 100% in love with coconut.

Mmm. What are you waiting for? Go get yourself a big ol’ ice cream spoon and dig in!

Thank you so much for asking me to guest post, Noelle. It was good times.

Recipe:

by Jennie from The Messy Baker 

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

5 egg yolks

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1 tsp. coconut extract

1 (8 ounce ) can crushed pineapple, drained of all juice

1/3 cup shredded coconut

Instructions:

In a medium sauce pan on medium low heat, add whole milk, coconut milk, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Let the mixture simmer until hot but not boiling, whisking occasionally.

In a medium bowl, add egg yolks and whisk. Once the milk mixture is hot, temper the yolks by adding a small amount of the milk mixture at a time, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the sauce pan and cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes, whisking occasionally.

In a large bowl, add sweetened condensed milk, pineapple juice, and coconut extract. Whisk to combine. When the milk mixture has thickened, strain and add to the condensed milk mixture, whisking to combine. Store the mixture in the refrigerator overnight until completely chilled.

Once the mixture has chilled completely, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. Right before the ice cream is finished churning, add the shredded coconut and crushed pineapple. Store in an airtight container and place in the freezer until firm, about 4 hours. Top with toasted coconut flakes and enjoy.

How to Make Cocktail Sauce

Many years ago when I was a waitress I had to learn how to make cocktail sauce. I worked at a restaurant where we made cocktail sauce to order. At the time it was a nuisance having to stop during a busy shift between running food and refilling drinks to hand-make condiments, but I perfected the skill and learned to make it quickly with just the right ratio of ingredients. I have since become the token cocktail sauce maker in my family and now I will share the tricks of the trade with you fine folks. It is ridiculously easy to make and way cheaper than ready made. Here is the recipe:

You will need ketchup, a lemon, worcestershire sauce and horseradish.

;

;

Start by squeezing about half of a fresh lemon into a bowl.

;

;

;

;

;

;

;

Add about half a cup of ketchup, about 5-6 shakes of worcestershire, several tablespoons of horseradish (more or less depending on how spicy you like it.) Stir well and serve. Its so easy right? Now you never have an excuse to buy store-bought cocktail sauce again!

It tastes way better, and you will feel accomplished knowing there are no preservatives.

Tasty Meatloaf Basics

I was not one of those kids who grew up eating meatloaf. In fact, I was 21 the first time I ever tasted it. I always thought it would be horrible, but my mother gave me this recipe and after my first bite I was hooked. Though my recipe varies each time depending on what veggies I have on hand, the basic foundation of this dish remains the same. It is my handy-dandy Meatloaf Basics that create a moist and delicious family meal.

The first thing you need to know about Meatloaf is how to make it moist. Here’s how…

This recipe serves 4 (or two with leftovers for sandwiches tomorrow :D)

In a large mixing bowl combine:

2 eggs

1/4 c Ketchup (or more if you want)

1/4 c Milk

Several shakes of Worcestershire sauce

About 1 Tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning

About 1 Tbsp Whole Grain Mustard

Garlic Salt and Pepper to Taste

About 1 Tbsp Garlic Paste or Crushed Garlic

Next tear the crusts off 2 slices of fresh bread (white or wheat doesn’t matter). Then tear into piece and mix into the bowl. The fresh bread instead of breadcrumbs will make a nice moist meatloaf.

You will end up with a really disgusting looking mush. This is perfect!

Fold in about a pound of beef. If you like to use a pork/beef combo that works well too. Usually just a good wooden spoon is enough to combine the mixture, but if you (or the kiddies) are so inclined, do get your hands in there to get everything nice and mixed.

At this point you can add whatever veggies you like. This is a great opportunity to sneak in vegetables for kids who will only eat meat, so the more vegetables the merrier. (This is how I trick my nephews… works like a charm. The best part is after they’ve gobbled it down, I tell them all the veggies they just ate and then I laugh as they run screaming to the bathroom to hurl. That didn’t really happen of course, I’m just saying.)

I often add about 1/4-1/2 cup each of grated carrots, tomatoes, multi-colored bell peppers (looks lovely in the finished loaf!), and onions. You could even throw in some greens if you like. I once made an italian Meatloaf with spinach and zucchini, topped with Marinara instead of ketchup but it tasted too much like a giant meatball.

This time I added the secret ingredient of 1/4 cup of Stovetop stuffing. I don’t personally eat cooked stovetop, but I love using the dry mix in lieu of breadcrumbs. Just a little bit helps hold the loaf together, and the bigger crumb pieces soften up and don’t dry out your meatloaf.

Bake the meatloaf for about 30-40 minutes in a 350 oven.

The second thing you need to know is how to make a good glaze. Sure just plain ketchup works fine but a glorious glaze will ensure lots of “oohs” and “ahhs.”

In a small saucepan combine:

about 1/4 c Ketchup

Several shakes of Worcestershire

1 Tbsp Whole grain mustard (do NOT under any circumstances use yellow mustard. Why? Because nothing so unnaturally neon yellow should be consumed by a human, that’s why!)

2-3 Tbsp Honey

2-3 Tbsp Whiskey (Jack Daniel’s is preferred)

Simmer until the alcohol is cooked out then pour over the hot Meatloaf when it has about 10 minutes left in the oven.

You will end up with a gorgeous looking glaze that will really add some delicious flavour to your already amazing Meatloaf. When its ready, slice and serve. Garnish with a drizzle of ketchup. Mmmm.

5 Pinterest Craft Ideas to Try This Summer

I have an entire board on Pinterest of craft ideas I’ve been dying to try. Here are five that I absolutely must make time for this summer.

1) LollyJane made these adorable Anthropologie inspired Zinc Letters from cardboard letters and silver paint. Super easy, and way cheaper!

2) This little gem is from VixenMade. DIY Fluted Cake Stand. If you remember my DIY cupcake stand then you’ll love this idea! Dollar store candle stick and a spray painted tart pan. Love it!

3) House of Earnest is a sweet little decor blog. Erin made these cute little customize wooden utensils. What an adorable little idea!

4) I cannot WAIT to make these adorable citrus themed coasters! I love citrus colors and this is a great wait to brighten up your coffee table. The Purl Bee has lots of really cute craft ideas.

5) Dollar Store mug + Sharpie Pen. Bake for 30 minutes. Custom Quote Mugs! You could do this on any dish. What a great gift idea!