Friday, August 29, 2014

Thoughts are Stars

Inspired by the quote from John Green, I painted this piece of art several weeks ago on a day when I was feeling particularly scatter-brained. Lately I have been feeling inspired by starry nights and the moon.

There's just this overwhelming urge I get sometimes to paint an image I get in my head. Does anyone else get that?

I am extremely strong-willed. once an Idea gets into my head, theres only a very small chance of stopping me. For example, although I've never {successfully} sewn an article of clothing, around Easter, I got this idea into my head that I needed to sew myself a new dress. So I went all out. Not only did I sew my vintage-styled dress, but I also designed it. In fact, I was finally able to apply the calculus class I took to real life! But that's for another day. . . .

Whats inspiring you these days?

<3 Danielle

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Hello everyone! Remember my garden with the GIANT cucumbers? 
Well, I had to figure out a way to use all of those cukes up, not to mention the plethora of tomatoes!  So, I made this super simple salad. This is perfect for a party, because it can be made the day before, or ten minutes before! Can't get better than that!

I wish I could say that I grew those onions as well, but last year, when I tried growing onions, they all got eaten up by worms (blah!!!).  Does anyone have any secrets to growing onions? I could use some advice!

Anyway, you should totally make this because it's basically a taste of summer, and we need to stretch summer as long as we possibly can, no matter what the school districts or lawmakers say.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad
1 Large Cucumber, Chopped (about 3 cups)
1 tomato chopped, or twelve grape tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp. basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, store in fridge in an airtight container until ready to serve or up to 3 days.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Cut Mango Like a Pro

Mangos are by far my favourite fruit. Yeah, I probably eat more bananas than any other fruit, but to be given the choice between a banana or a mango, the mango would win hands down.

Unfortunately, much of my life wasted away without the knowledge of how incredible this silky, sweet, juicy perfection is. Why was this?
When I was a kid, my mom never bought mangos. She said they were too much work for not much fruit.

I didn't care too much then, because I had no idea what I was missing out on. But then, one night everything changed. I was probably in seventh grade, and I was over at a friend's house. She cut up mango and offered me a piece. My mom's mango- free reign was beginning it's downfall.

I begged for her to invest in some mangoes, and she gave in. Then came the errors many make:
1) it was under ripe when we cut into it.
2) we attempted to cube their flesh of the fruit while it was still in it's skin
3) we tried to remove the fruit from the skin with a spoon

She stopped buying mango after that.

Years later, I gave them another approach, and this time, I won the battle with the mango. And the rest is history. So for all you mango fearers, here's the secret to success in your match against the tricky mango:

This is the best method, in my opinion, to get the most bang for your buck. Cause mangos are expensive. And I am cheap. 

Also, you're probably not going to want to use a peeler that you got for fifty cents at the dollar store, by the way. Believe me, investing in a good quality peeler will be worth it, not only for mangos, but also potatoes, apples, etc.

So enjoy your mango!

Friday, August 22, 2014

One Pan Stir Fry

Note: sorry this post came a little later in the day than usual, I am out of town staying in a house of no WiFi, so bear with me for the next week or so... I'll do my best to post regularly!

Some nights, I just don't feel like cooking.

Some nights, I have too empty of a pantry to make anything fancy.

Some nights, I just want to eat something delicious, but don't have much time.

Some nights (read: every night), I crave Asian food. 

That's when I make this stir fry.

This is super adaptable:
Don't have the right veggies? Mushrooms, green beans, sugar snap peas, etc. work well
Don't have chicken? Omit  or  substitute cooked pork, tofu, or beans.
No rice? Use quinoa, spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice, or your favourite grain.

So, there is no excuses not to make this!

One Pan Stir Fry

2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
2 cups uncooked rice
3 large carrots
1 head broccoli
2 large stalks celery
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce (I love Little Soya brand)
pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. sriracha sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  1. In a large skillet, simmer rice in water for twenty minutes, or until soft.
  2. While rice cooks, chop vegetables to a uniform size, or as shown in the picture above.
  3. Strain the rice. in the same skillet, steam vegetables until tender, about ten-  fifteen minutes.
  4. Once they are soft, remove steaming liquid from pan, and add rice, chicken, soy sauce, pepper, sriracha, ginger, and vinegar to the vegetables. Heat everything through, and keep heated until serving.
Serves about 6-8

Hope you all like it as much as I do!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Berries 'n' Cream Oatmeal Parfait

Why oh why can't it be summer all year long? Probably because without winter and fall, we wouldn't appreciate summer quite so much. One of my favourite summer features is the fruit. Especially:


I mean, sure, fall has apples and pears, winter is prime for citrus, and spring is the time for rhubarb (at least in my garden), but really? Summer trumps them all.

So here's a recipe calling for berries. Enjoy it now as we cling to the last wisps of summer, or forever hold your peace (because really, winter lasts FOREVER).

Berries 'n' Cream Oatmeal Parfait
Serves one

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almond milk, or milk of choice
4 strawberries, stems removed
6 blackberries
15 blueberries
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
Sweetener of choice to taste, optional
3/4 cup yoghurt of choice
Optional: granola, chocolate chips, more berries, coconut, etc.

1) In a blender or food processor, puree milk, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, sweetener, and vanilla.
2) in a small saucepan, cook oats and milk/berry puree until oats are soft and most of the liquid has absorbed. Cool overnight, or until it's cold. This is sped up if it's placed in a shallow bowl.
3) Layer the oatmeal and yoghurt and optional ingredients in a container. Enjoy immediately.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Autumn Things

Wow, the blogging community has really been embracing autumn! Me? Not so much.

You see, the reason why I dislike fall is because it leads to winter.
This may seem like a strange statement considering that my favorite season is summer, then winter, then spring, then fall. winter is boosted up to second place for several reasons, one being that my business really picks up in the winter (I sell heating pads and greeting cards). 

But the main reason is Christmas, which not only symbolized Jesus's birth, but also it just fills the air with joy and love and cheerfulness.  also, I looove Christmas carols. And Christmas movies. And Christmas lights. And Christmas trees. And egg nog. And Black Friday. 

Back on track. Besides, since winter doesn't start until December 20, most of those things happen in fall. so, maybe I do like it. Except for the weather. I live in the midwest, where we have HOT summers and COLD winters. I'm talking negative degrees, people. And that's in Fahrenheit.

So I decided that to convince myself that autumn is a good thing, I'd make a piece of art.

What you'll need:
cardstock (white)
water colors

1) Using different calligraphies, write fill the page with things you love about fall.

2) Fill the spaces with doodles corresponding to the words

3) Using the watercolors, fill in illustrations or letters to create a busy, somewhat abstract masterpiece.

So, do you like fall?

<3 Danielle

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Summer is most definitely my favorite season. No doubt about it. But every year a small part of me aches for cool winter temperatures. Why? One word: soup. I just don't understand why it's less acceptable to eat soup in summer than it is in winter? It tastes delicious year round! Sure, it's hot food, but then again, so are hotdogs, burgers, and baked beans, and those are traditional American summer foods. Hmmm...

Anyway, although I've never been a "rule breaker" when we had a few cooler days last week, I wasted no time. This cauliflower soup is so simple, yet so yum. There are no chunks, if that bothers you, add some extra steamed cauliflower after blending. 
{excuse my chipped nail polish}
So if your like to break rules, if you like soup, or if you get a blast of cooler weather, be sure to put this on your to do list. 

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 cup rice, uncooked
6 cups chicken broth
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 head cauliflower, chopped
2 c. unsweetened milk of choice (I used cows' milk)

  1. In a 3 or 4 quart saucepan, melt the butter, then add the onions, cooking them until they become translucent. Add rice and 4 cups of the broth and heat them until they boil. After reducing heat, simmer for 20 minutes. Add the salt and pepper before pureeing.
  2. Steam the cauliflower in one inch of water until slightly tender. Remove the cauliflower, but leave the water to reduce to less than one cup.
  3. Puree the cauliflower and the reduced cauliflower water, adding a little of the already pureed soup base, if necessary.
  4. Mix the soup base and the pureed cauliflower in the saucepan. Then add the extra broth and milk. Heat through, adding any extra salt and pepper if needed.
This keeps about a week in the fridge.

optional: Add some larger chunks of  steamed cauliflower to the finished soup if the lack of chunks bothers you. I rarely do this.