Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Terrarium Party!

I love crafting and I feel like Pinterest is a bit of a dream- seeing so many different ideas and inspirations just make me want to create something. Some of those ideas are food related and they do end up on this blog but most of my other creations don't find their way here. Since my cooking updates have been a little less frequent I want to show that I am still keeping busy even if it is just vicarious crafting online!

I decided that I just loved seeing terrarium projects but I wanted to make my own and customize. One of the big drawbacks to a project like this is the cost when you are only making one - you need to buy large bags of many of the supplies which can make it expensive. In order to help decrease the per unit price, I invited a lot of friends over to make their own creations. We had a bit of trouble coordinating a good time for everyone but over about 3 days we made almost a dozen different little worlds. I also really enjoyed making the little men and mushrooms to decorate the little scenes, clay sculpting can be so much fun.  Make sure you have some dedicated space or a drop cloth down as this project can get a little messy!

Here are a few pictures of some of the different combinations we created!

Keep reading if you would like instructions....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Better than ever Herb and Wine Pot Roast

There are some dishes that just taste like comfort. Pot roast is absolutely one of those. I can smell my mom opening the oven bag that she would often use to make this dish. We didn't eat too many meals that would be considered your standard American fare but this "meat and potatoes" standby still reminds me of running in the door just barely making it for dinner at 5 pm sharp. I decided to put my own little spin on this dish as so many recipes call for the "classic" version using ketchup for flavoring. I would like to think our pallets are a bit more sophisticated so I used a blend of red wine, diced tomato and plenty of fresh herbs to season this dish instead. I did stick with the traditional carrots, onions and potato though since some things just work well and don't need to be messed around with.

There are a lot of good things happening with this pot roast, the first being how easy it is to make (and its easily adaptable for the crockpot!) I always sear my meat first so I don't usually use the crock pot since once the dutch oven is dirty I figure why waste another pan but you can switch over if you want to be able to leave it cooking while you are away from the house. I put my carrots and onions in with the meat for almost the full time but left the potatoes out until that last 90 min so they wouldn't get over cooked and mushy but I have to admit, I think that might be part of the charm of pot roast. I also made a gravy to go with the dish by reducing by 2/3rd the juices and then straining and adding a touch of Wondra flour while whisking but feel free to serve as is. Don't forget to take some time when you are prepping and make sure the veggies are similar sizes to ensure even cooking.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Coconut Shrimp

I love seafood and I am always trying to come up with ways to get "haters" to try it. It seems that many people refuse to eat seafood even though they have never really tasted it (or at least any of MY cooking).  Sometimes they even go as far to fake allergies in order to avoid offending the cook! While I can't guarantee that this recipe will get everyone to love seafood it is a wonderful and easy to make ahead dish that works as a main or appetizers. Most recipes for coconut shrimp include a quick dip in the deep frier but these are made in the oven so you can have a few extra with out all the guilt!

I recently made 4 lbs of shrimp using this recipe to use as appetizers for a party I hosted it actually gets really easy and mindless after the first few batches! I loved being able to bake them ahead of time and then just quickly crisping them up in the over right before serving. We actually had lots of left overs so I saved a bag full (once cooked stick in freezer to individually freeze then stick in a zip top bag till you are ready to reheat) and have been using them as a fun little appetizers when the girls come over for our after work glass of wine...they are better for you than breaking out some cheese and crackers! I used a store bought Mandarin Orange and Ginger Vinaigrette dressing for dipping sauce (and it was delicious - Shop Rite brand if you would like to try and find it)  but if you want to go homemade just look for something asian and citrus flavored.