tag: cooking

dinner ideas 5.9.14

May 9, 2014

Posted by in dinner ideas

plant based dinner ideas if you follow me over on instagram, you know that we’ve been spending the week at the beach! after having a few days of not feeling well and being slammed with work, it’s been a much needed break. of course, when i get back this weekend i’ll hit the ground running, as next weekend is international quilt market! (more on that, soon.)

when we travel, we always try to cook our meals. it’s healthier and saves money, but we also love to socialize over cooking a good meal together. we packed several basics (spices, chopping knife, cooking oil) but went straight to the nearest health food store when we got in to town. exploring new markets is part of the fun, as well! here’s what we’ve made:

monday: spaghetti & no meatballs
tuesday: yam & carrot coconut milk soup
wednesday:  roasted potato and asparagus lentil salad
thursday: butternut squash burritos
friday: summer vegetable curry

what was on your plate this week? any favorite recipes you’d like to share?

we follow a whole foods, plant based diet. the dinner ideas posts are a way for me to log our dinners, how we make eating this way easy, and hopefully inspire you to try some new things as well. they are always meat free, dairy free and often gluten free. you can follow the posts here, and i encourage you to share your favorite recipes with us as well!

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hand painted wooden spoons

December 18, 2013

hand painted wooden spoons (diy!) (6)

hello, lovelies! this week i’m going to try my best to share several tutorials with you for handmade gifts. making presents for my friends and family each year has always been one of my favorite things! it all started last week with this soy candle tutorial, and today i’m sharing with you how to make these beautiful hand painted spoons.

i am by no means claiming this as an original diy! i know lots of people out there are painting spoons, but to be honest, i haven’t read any of the tutorials. i just went at this diy from what i knew and am here to share my experience with you. let’s get started!

hand painted wooden spoons (diy!) (1)

first, you’ll need to gather several supplies, though none of them are very expensive (yeah!).


– wooden spoons (i grabbed mine right here)
– desired colors of martha stewart craft paints in satin finish (available at michaels)*
– tape to use as a guide (i used washi tape)
– paint brush
wood conditioner

*marth stewart’s craft paints are non-toxic and dishwasher safe. they are not considered ‘food safe’ though, so be sure not to paint the entire spoon!

for the labels:

printable tags (click to download)
– sticker paper (i used full page sticker paper from world label)
– printer
bakers twine for tying

hand painted wooden spoons (diy!) (3)

hand painted wooden spoons (diy!) (5)

step 1: tape. first start by placing a piece of tape around the spoon to use as a guide. i used washi tape because it was easy to apply and remove. i also tried regular scotch tape, but found it super hard to remove! also, do yourself a favor and make a ‘pull tab’ (shown in picture 1) by folding the tape over at the end as you wrap it around. this will make it really easy to remove!

step 2: paint. paint paint paint! apply two coats if necessary and don’t forget to paint the round end of the spoon. you’ll also need to figure out a way to let them dry without anything touching the painted handles. my ikea plant stand worked perfectly, but since i know you all don’t have one, you can also hang them from the spoon side with string, or wedge them in cuts from a cardboard box (follow me?).

step 3: cure the paint. let the spoons air dry for 1 hour, then place them in a cool oven. set the temperature to 350°f. once oven reaches 350°, bake them for 30 minutes. then, turn the oven off and let them cool completely in the oven. wait 72 hours before using or washing.

hand painted wooden spoons (diy!)

step 4: condition the wood. you guys, i can’t believe what a difference this made! i really urge you not to skip this step (especially if you buy cheap spoons like i did!). as you can see above, the wood conditioner works wonders. simply apply the wax warm, let sit for 20 minutes and then wipe the excess off. (click here to watch a video of me doing it- and hear my baby coo in the background! haha).

hand painted wooden spoons (diy!) (7)

step 5: tag. now it’s time to tag your gifts (if you want)! click here to download the printable tags. i  printed mine on full page sticker paper from world label and then cut them out along the faint dotted lines. then, fold them in half with a piece of baker’s twine in the middle, then tie around a set of three spoons

hand painted wooden spoons (diy!) (2)

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Posted by in christmas

2011 gift guide kitchen goods i don’t think it’s any secret that i have a special affinity for kitchen textiles, so they are an obvious gift choice for me during the holidays. i love having pretty things around in my cooking area, and feel extra special when i’m wearing a beautiful apron. so, here are a few of my favorite kitchen gift ideas!


julia vol. 1 – $42 | reversible linen apron – £36.00 | watering can apron – $30

tea towels

tea towel calendar – $30 | moose tea towel - $18 | be happy tea towel – $16

oven mitts

resourced fabric oven mitts – $26 | yellow geometric oven mitt – $18 | church flowers oven mitt – $14

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Posted by in simple living

the huge variety of oils at the store have always put me on overload. which ones are the best? why? what are they all for? well i decided to put my research hat on and find out a little bit more about them. here is a quick overview of the best oils, and some resources to boot. which oils are your favorite?

Art for Kitchen - OLIVE OIL

art for the kitchen – OLIVE OIL

extra virgin olive oil

this one is the big winner, woohoo! that’s good, because this is the one i use the most. evoo is a less processed and (therefore) more flavorful oil than other oils and wins for best oil because of it’s monounsaturated (that’s the good one) fats and plant compounds that protect against heart disease and cancer. lucky for us, it also tastes oh-so-good.

sesame oil

i’ve started to incorporate this one more and more into our diet (mainly because of this amazing recipe) and i have to say, it adds a powerfully yummy taste to many dishes. it is derived from toasted sesame seeds and may help to lower blood pressure. it’a also great in asian inspired dishes.

flaxseed oil

since we don’t eat fish, flax oil is a big component of how we get our heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids in each day. these essential fatty acids protect against bone loss and reduce inflammation in people with arthritis. heating flaxseed oil will destroy it’s nutrients, so keep this one in the fridge and use on salads or in smoothies. (hint: we also add about 1 tbs to toaster’s food each day! it keeps his coat shiny and skin extra healthy.)

walnut oil

i haven’t used this oil very much, but i know one thing, i do love walnuts! walnut oil contains a specific antioxidant that helps prevent cancers (say no more!). it turns bitter when heated, so this is another one to keep in your fridge and drizzle over salads or pastas.

peanut oil

this nutty tasting oil contains resveratrol (the same antioxidant found in red wine) which helps to prevent blood clots. it can take extremely high temperatures, so this one is best for pan frying.

sunflower oil

you got it, this one is made from sunflower seeds! it has a light taste and contains vitamin e, which reduces your risk for heart attack.

did you know?

it’s best to store your healthy oils in a dark, dry cabinet away from heat or sunlight (preferably, in the fridge). nut based oils such as walnut, flaxseed and sesame need must be refrigerated as they can turn rancid at room temperature.

for a more in depth look at oils, read this great article on cooking oils.

simple living

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september csa!

September 27, 2011

september csa veggie box

the highlight of my week? picking up our organic csa veggie box!

september csa veggie box

sure to inspire this week’s recipes are:

– 2 red bell peppers and bunches little green ones
– green beans
– cherry tomatoes and 3 large heirloom tomatoes
– 1 stalk of celery
– 1 onion
– 1 bunch of spinach
– 3 baskets of strawberries (can’t believe their still growing here!)
– 6 ears of corn
– 4 zucchinis
– 1 bunch of carrots
– 3 heads of lettuce

september csa veggie box

getting this box of local organic veggies every week is truly the most rewarding food we get. it keeps us in touch with the seasons, eating locally and cooking different things every week. use local harvest to help find a community supported agriculture farm in your area!

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Diy Donuts

September 19, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

Homemade donuts (or, doughnuts) are an extra-special treat that I save for weekends when family visits from out of town. Admittedly they’re not the healthiest breakfast, but everything in moderation, right?

The recipe I chose to use was a highly recommended, well-thought out tutorial by The Pioneer Woman. I’ve decided not demonstrate the step-by-step method of this recipe, as Ree (the author) obviously put so much work into it and deserves every bit of credit.

I am going to show you the cooking method of my donuts, and really, you can use whichever recipe out there you like. I’ve even used the canned biscuit dough method, and it worked like a charm, although there’s no question that homemade donut dough can’t be beat. Once we’ve cooked the donuts, I am going to show you my favorite toppings for this melt-in-your mouth treat.


Donut dough, fully prepared, risen and refrigerated
oil for frying – I used canola as it is a little heart-healthier

for glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

for chocolate glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of salt

for rolling donuts


rolling pin
baking pan
mixing bowls
a pot for frying
tongs or slotted spoon
cooling rack
paper towels
donut or cookie cutters


Begin by removing your previously prepared donut dough from the refrigerator. I placed mine onto a floured baking sheet, and rolled it out.

After rolling out my dough, I began to cut out my donut shapes with cookie cutters. If you have a round donut cutter with a smaller cutout for the center hole, then that is great. The reason that donuts usually have the center cut out is because donuts tend to cook quickly and unevenly in the oil – the outsides tend to brown while the center remains doughy. Cutting a hole in the center solves this problem.

I don’t have a round or donut cutter, but I did have these very cute Autumn-themed cookie cutters (a leaf, a pumpkin, a pine cone, and a crescent moon, if you were curious). They’re pretty small, so I wasn’t too worried about the centers not cooking thoroughly. Lightly grease the inside of your cutters to prevent sticking to the dough.

If you’re using Ree’s recipe, she further instructs you to allow the cut dough to rise again, for an hour in a warm, moist place. This will produce a very light and fluffy donut. If you like a thicker, chewier donut, you could skip this step, which I’ve done and still been pleased with the results.

The next step is to fry the cut dough. I filled my pan with a little over an inch of canola oil. I did not measure my temperature as Ree did, but once the oil began to simmer, I began to place the donut dough in, starting with just one.

Once the bottom began to brown, I flipped it over. The cooking usually happens pretty quickly, and you don’t want to over cook.

Once fully cooked, I removed the donut with a slotted spoon (tongs could work, too), and placed it on a double-layer of paper towels to soak up the extra grease.

If you want cinnamon sugar donuts, roll the donut while still pretty moist and hot in a shallow bowl or small brown paper bag with cinnamon and sugar. I honestly don’t measure out my cinnamon and sugar mixture, but 3 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon should do the trick.

For glazed donuts, I let them cool a bit longer.

To prepare the glaze, I microwave the milk and vanilla for 30 seconds in a microwave-safe bowl. Next, stir in the confectioners (powdered) sugar until well blended. Dip the donuts in the bowl of glaze, one side at a time, and it works well to place on a cooling rack over a baking sheet to catch any drips.

For chocolate glaze, combine the butter, milk, and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 30 seconds, and then stir in confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, and just a pinch of salt. Mix well, and dip donuts in the glaze, one side at a time, and allow to dry on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.

And that’s it! You can also leave these plain, and they’re still great when eaten warm with a cup of coffee. These donuts can be left out for a while, or placed in a paper bag. You could keep in an airtight container, but expect them to get a bit sticky and gooey.

ashley paul indie pretty project Out to find ways to make life simpler, Ashley is tackling life one DIY project at a time. Learning as she goes, she also spends her days writing Indie Pretty Projects and creating for her Etsy shop.

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post punk kitchen

July 15, 2011

Posted by in cooking ideas

post punk kitchen i’m always on the lookout for the next great recipe blog, and was so excited when i recently discovered post punk kitchen. with vegan recipes for everything from cupcakes to curries- these girls take a fun approach to cooking, and the recipes are not only delicious, but totally doable as well. you’ll be grilling peaches and making pumpkin muffin in no time!

above recipes: mexican hot chocolate snicker doodles, raw strawberry cheesecake, orange cranberry muffins, chocolate mousse cupcakes, tofu omelets

happy cooking!

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Posted by in simple living

herb drying

there’s nothing quite as satisfying, more delicious, (or cheaper!) than drying your own herbs.

herb drying
i am blessed to have fresh rosemary, oregano, and lavender growing in my yard (with some mint and basil patiently waiting to be planted) and yesterday i grabbed a few clippings from each of them.

herb drying

one of my favorite kitchen gadgets has been my ceramic herb drier. mine looks like a ‘ribbon’ that has been placed in somewhat of a figure eight shape, and though i can’t find this exact one, i found several that would do the trick. just rinse your herbs and place them in the ‘vase’ until they are dry enough to harvest.

herb drying

1. vertical pod wall vase; $29

2. blue and brown hasta wall vase; $34

3. textured teal beaded wall vase; $24

4. cage wall sculpture; $42

what is your favorite way to dry herbs?

simple living


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