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31  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Creamy Pasta with Peas on: June 26, 2015 01:40:08 PM
We picked the last of the peas from our garden last week and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them, make a creamy parmesan pasta from a very versatile recipe.  You could use substitute almost any vegetable, or even use frozen peas.  I modified a recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook about 20 years ago and find it's a great last minute what's for dinner dish!


Additional ingredients include a cup of heavy cream, a half stick of butter, any kind of pasta you have on hand and parmesan cheese.  From the spice cupboard grab salt, cayenne pepper, dill weed, garlic powder and nutmeg (I grate mine).


The cream and butter go into a skillet on medium low, along with the cayenne, nutmeg and salt.  Start with a pinch of each then taste for balance.


Stir frequently for 15 minutes, scraping the sides of the skillet as it thickens.  At this point, reduce heat to simmer and stir often as you change your focus to the pasta.


At this point I add pasta and the peas to boiling salted water.  These fettuccini nests only take 5 minutes and so do the peas.  If I was using frozen peas, I'd add them now, too.  If you use something like broccoli, I'd add it to the water 3 minutes before the pasta is done.  Want to use zucchini or red pepper instead?  I'd saute those in a little olive oil and add it at the end.  You get the idea!


While the pasta is cooking, stir in a half cup of grated parmesan, a good shake of garlic powder and a 1/2 teaspoon of dill weed.


See how the sauce thickens?


Once the pasta is done, drain it and dump it in the sauce.  Serve with extra parmesan to sprinkle on top.


If you're watching carbs, this sauce works very well over spiralized zucchini noodles instead of the pasta.  If you're a pescatarian, you can add some baked salmon at the end.  Enjoy!
32  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Shrimp, Corn and Avocado Salad on: May 16, 2015 10:59:07 AM
This is, without a doubt, my favorite summer salad recipe.  It's absolutely delicious.  I've improved on the recipe over the years, here's my current version.



Ingredients:
Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Tomatoes
Avocado
2 ears of corn (boiled or grilled)
Orange sections (grapefruit is also delicious as an alternative)
You can also include other crunchy vegetables like red bell pepper and celery if you like.



The dressing consists of 1/3 cup of olive oil, juice and zest of a lemon, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a splash of flavored vinegar, a dash of hot sauce, 4 minced cloves of garlic, chopped jalapenos, dill, salt & pepper all wisked together.


Peel and devein the shrimp.  Saute them for a few minutes on each side until opaque.


Slice the corn off the cob, mix with the sauteed shrimp, chopped tomatoes, diced avocado and the sections from 2 naval oranges.  Toss with the dressing and enjoy!  It's even better the second day.   Smiley

33  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Prince and Sheila E World Tour on: May 08, 2015 02:27:08 PM
March 24, 1985 was a huge day for me.  I saw Prince and the Revolution play Madison Square Garden during their Purple Rain tour with Sheila E as their opener!  Yep, feel free to be jealous.   Cheesy  I, of course, bought the program but couldn't bring myself to cut into it so decided to frame the awesome t-shirt I bought that day instead.  When I decided to do this project, it took me about 5 minutes to find the components across 3 different rooms of my house.  I feel quite the accomplishment for that considering it's 30 years and 8 houses later!



The tickets were just $17.50.  I think I paid over $100 to see him 20 years later in Las Vegas but it just wasn't the same without Wendy and Lisa backing him. 



Those flowers actually fell from the ceiling of the arena during his encore, which was of course Purple Rain.  This project brought back great memories for me, thanks so much Ticketmaster!

34  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Getting Started With Bees on: April 07, 2015 12:01:56 PM
We picked up two packages of bees and installed them into hives this morning.  The process can be quite mysterious and daunting so I thought I'd share how it's done.  Smiley  We ordered our bees in December and selected the first pick-up date (April 7th).  The bee supplier is about a 90 minute drive from here.  We arrived two hours into pick-up and they had already gone through almost a thousand packages(!)  Sorry for the huge number of photos, but I wish I'd had this step by step the first time we did this.

(These guys could have used some Craftster help with their signage...)

The packaging comes in three parts; the screened transport cage, a can of sugar water with three small holes punched in the bottom so they have food for their journey, and a little queen cage hanging inside.  Each package has about 12,000 bees inside it.


We (very carefully) drove home with them on the backseat floorboards of our car. 


Today was overcast and 65 degrees.  The perfect weather for this process.  The first thing we did when we got home was spray them with a good dose of homemade sugar water.  Simple syrup for those of you who enjoy the occasional fancy cocktail. Cheesy  This helps keep them docile during the process. 


There is a thin veneer of wood stapled to the opening, it just gets pried off with a hive tool. 


The sugar water can gets lifted out so you can reach inside and pull out that little queen cage.  As soon as it's out, we just lay the veneer back over the opening so the bees can't escape.


Here's a look at the queen cage.  She's in there with a few worker bees, that's her on the left.  The white stuff on the end is a sugary solid known as candy, and is blocked by a cork plug. 


The cork gets removed, exposing the candy to the hive bees.  It will take the hive 1-2 days to eat away the candy and release the queen and her attendants.  This gives them a little time to get used to each other.


The entire uncorked queen cage gets hung between two frames.  Now we're ready for bees!


Just gather your nerve and dump em in!


Use a soft hive brush to coax them down between the frames.


If you look really carefully, you can see they are congregated around the hanging queen cage.


The feeder box goes on top of the frames.  There is a pollen patty on one side, the other side gets a half gallon of homemade sugar water, plus everything left in the can they arrived with.  We go through about 5 pounds of sugar every week for 4-5 months out of the year. 


The lid goes on, with a rock to hold it down.  We'll remove the screened cages tomorrow.  There are always a few bees who stubbornly don't want to leave their transportation.  They'll find their way into the hive eventually.  I had every intention of repainting the hives this winter.  Oh well.


Our hives live in our front yard, about 25 feet from the pond's edge in full sun.  It's a great location for bees! 


If you're interested in learning about harvesting honey, check out my A Sweet Harvest post from a while back. 

35  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Zombie Chase on: April 01, 2015 07:01:17 AM
I had a few of the running HO scale people left over from the Tiny Undead Are Victorious project I made for Ludi a while back, so I decided to get my zombie on again.  This is a tree ornament made for coocoosnest (because who wouldn't love a zombie tree?)   Smiley  Many thanks to her for use of the photos.

Here's a close up of the chaser, who evidently has been kneeling in goo.   Tongue
36  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Walking Dead Wallet on: April 01, 2015 02:04:51 AM
I've carried the same ugly wallet in my purse for so very long.  When I finally got around to buying a new one, it ended up being annoyingly small.  I came across a wallet pattern in my local sewing studio that seemed like it would completely meet my picky requirements.  I had some zombie fabric by Springs Creative and Riley Blake in my stash and figured why not give it a go?



That's Michonne with her katana staring from the inner flap. 



I'm embarassed to say this was like the second zipper I've ever installed, I love having a roomy place to toss coins.  Paper money is easily accessible and there are tons of slots to keep credit cards in.  It's a perfect size for me and quite the conversation starter in many check-out lines.   Cheesy

37  SEWING IN GENERAL / Machine Embroidery: Discussion and Questions / 2015 Featured Machine Embroidery Projects on: March 31, 2015 12:23:12 PM
Featured Machine Embroidery Projects

FSL Snowflakes by waggonswest  


First Real Digitizing Success: Geometric Fox Head by p.kok  





38  COOKING / Dessert / World's Best S'Mores on: March 18, 2015 01:06:43 PM
After being inspired at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival last weekend, I decided to offer homemade s'mores for dessert at a get together at our house.  They were so good I'm still dreaming about them! 


I had never made marshmallows before and found them to be incredibly easy to do.  I got to use the candy thermometer I haven't used in years and years and years.  I found a recipe on epicurious for bourbon vanilla bean marshmallows (heck yeah!).  Here's the link - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/bourbon-vanilla-marshmallows-51151850

They sat overnight uncovered in a 9 by 9 inch pan.



The next day I turned it out onto a powedered sugar dusted surface and cut them into squares with an oiled and sugar-dusted sharp knife.



I offered milk and dark chocolate, traditional graham crackers and homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Nobody even tried the store bought marshmallows.  Everyone toasted their own over our fire pit in the back yard then assembled little stacks of deliciousness.  I will absolutely make these again!

39  COOKING / Dessert / Low Carb Peanut Butter Fluff on: February 14, 2015 07:25:35 AM
Here's a low carb treat that's sure to please.

I whipped a cup of heavy cream until it formed soft peaks.  In a separate bowl, I mixed together 8 ounces of cream cheese, 4 tsp. vanilla and 3/4 cup of peanut butter until smooth.  I then mixed the whipped cream a little at a time into the peanut butter mixture and set that aside.

I melted a Tbsp. of butter in the microwave then stirred in about a half cup of almond flour.  To that I added a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and just a pinch of stevia.  After that was stirred together, I sprinkled it onto a baking dish and put that in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes to dry it out a bit into a chocolate almond 'dust'.

A spoonful of that went into a parfait dish, then a big dollop of the peanut butter mixture.  I grated dark chocolate and sprinkled that on top. 

I think if you're not watching carbs, you could substitute sugar for the stevia and also add a bit of sugar or honey to the peanut butter mixture.  And stick a Hershey's Kiss right on top! 

40  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Down the Rabbit Hole Shrine on: February 12, 2015 11:02:33 AM
I made this Alice in Wonderland shrine for lindyv321.  She listed a few themes for me to work from and I was just completely enchanted with her 'down the rabbit hole' theme and the fact she said she'd love to receive a shrine.  Since I'm a complete sieve-brain, many thanks to her for the use of her photos as I totally forgot to take any!

Wall details include a mirror, birdcage, clock and paintings of all the creatures she'll eventually meet in Wonderland.  Bits and bobs include a tea cup and teapot, a pastry, chess pieces, a drink me potion and key.  There are red roses everywhere and Disney's Alice is falling.


I found an actual Alice in Wonderland font to use for the directional signs I placed down one side.  


To represent the area where the rabbit hole was found, I made the roof of the shrine into a garden of sorts, including a chipmunk.  
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