Thursday, July 28, 2011

Daily Dish - Tagine

Silly me keeps forgetting to grab the recipe card I wrote out for the tagine I made on Sunday.  I'm going to attempt to replicate my recipe here, which was a hybrid of various recipes I found online.

My mom first made tagine for us during the annual parent visit over the holidays last year.  I had no idea what it was so, for those of you who are also unclear, it is a Morroccan dish named after the clay pot that it's made in.  Fortunately for us foodies, you don't actually need a fancy earthenware pot to make this dish!  I opted for the crockpot which, seeing as I ran out of counter-space due to an over-abundance of kitchen appliances, was tucked away for the summer.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

2 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 red onion
4 cloves garlic
1 carrot
1 tbsp flour
4 oz dried pitted prunes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can garbanzo beans
2 tbsp honey
1/4 pint chicken stock

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt & pepper

First, sautee the onion and garlic in some olive oil. Then add the chicken stock, and carefully mix in the flour until dissolved and not lumpy.  Next add the honey and tomato paste, again mixing until smooth.  Add the spices, with salt and pepper to taste.  Finally, add the can of tomatoes. 

Brown the chicken pieces.  I used chicken breast but you could very easily use any part of the chicken that you want. I'd actually never done chicken in a crockpot before (wings not withstanding) so forgot to lightly brown the chicken, but will definitely be adding this step next time around. 

Add the sauce, the chicken, and all the other ingredients into the crockpot.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours (or you could leave it for 7-8 hours on low).  We decided to serve with rice, although more traditionally this would be served with couscous or flat bread. I've read that you can garnish with cilantro or lemon, which I plan on doing next time around for sure!  This can also be made with beef or lamb, or substituting apricots and almonds for the prunes.  Essentially, there is no reason not to try different combinations each time you make it.

All in all a really tasty meal and even better, you can leave it unattended while you go do your thing, with the added benefit of the house smelling delicious while it cooks!

Yes, that is a paw.  Deuce photo-bombed again!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Daily Ramblings - Stuff

Please excuse my absence over the past week.  I have been horribly neglectful, with no solid excuse to make outside of having been relentlessly busy.

In my last post, I was preparing for the construction that was going to be taking place in the guest bedroom / craft cave.  The remaining furniture was piled into the middle of the room and covered up as the room was taken over by drywall replacement, ceiling patching, dust and paint.  Thankfully it only took a couple of days and now we're ready to move on to the next stage...which involves reorganizing all the furniture, new draperies, and finally putting up some artwork.

Meanwhile, the garbage disposal ate a gigantic chunk of one of my ceramic bowls.  We concluded that while husband could probably take the existing disposal apart, we weren't confident that he'd be able to get it back together.  So, off to Home Depot we went.  It only took 90 minutes, including a trip back to the store to get plumber's putty, to get our fancy new disposal installed.  Not bad considering we're not the confident do-it-yourself types.  Go us!  Of course, now we have the issue of the leaky kitchen faucet to deal with, but at least we're feeling confident we can replace it ourselves!  That being said, this makes me miss the days of being able to call the landlord.

In other news, after a long 2 years of unemployment, husband also started his new job this week.  From the time of his interview to the time he started working was less than 24 hours, and what a relief!  A big burden has been lifted and, for all of you out there that are still looking, I'm hopeful that you'll also find work soon!

So, as the week draws to a close, I'm very much looking forward to being able to get into my craft supplies again.  I'm loving that husband is enjoying his new job.  I'm thrilled that we can start working on the little home improvements that we've been wanted to do, but didn't quite have the funds to use.  I'm happy to report that dinner smells delicious (but more on that tomorrow).  Things are looking up indeed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Daily Ramblings - A revamp and whatnot

I've always been very fortunate to have a craft room at my disposal.  Technically, it's our guest bedroom, but our overnight guests are few and far between, which means I've had the liberty to literally leave my crafts all over the place.  It's my little crafty space and I have spent many hours in there cutting bits of fabric, photographing my wares, trying new things - all the while being observed by Deuce kitty who likes to either watch my work, steal things, or stare wistfully out the window. 

A couple of years ago, the first Christmas after we bought the house (and before I'd fully taken possession of that room), my parents were staying with us.  As it turns out, my dad was woken up Christmas morning by the gentle, but consistent, "plink plink" splashing of a leak on his head.  It had been raining heavily overnight and water was leaking in through the window at a pretty decent pace.  The HOA management company that we had at the time were basically a bunch of morons (which is being polite) and while the leak was fixed, the internal patching was never done.  Fast forward a couple of years and we're finally getting the work done - yay!

During the summer, this room turns the most amazing colors at sunset - illuminated by a magical orange glow from between the nasty, brown, ghetto-ass blinds.  I'm SO excited that we're going to get rid of the blinds that I've hated since day one (but we never bothered to do anything about).  I'll be making some nice curtain panels instead.  We're also going to have a small redesign in terms of how the furniture is laid out to optimize open space in the room and hopefully my sewing machine table won't be wedged in so that I'm hiding behind the door.  I think I'll finally be framing my limited edition Bugs Bunny artwork too as this will be where it resides!  

No, I do not have too many craft
supplies wedged into this space!
The problem of course is that my crafts, so hap-hazardously strewn about, had to be packed away neatly seeing as a chunk of the ceiling is being redone and I do not need ceiling dust all over everything.  So, that was my weekend.  I diligently filled storage totes, boxes and suitcases to be stacked away in the closet.  I started off with the best of organized intentions, which about 75% of the way through turned into "I don't care, as long as I can fit it in the damn box and still close the lid".  I found various things that I'd forgotten I have, discovered that my fabric stash is way bigger than anticipated, and still have no idea what happened to the grab bag of zippers that I bought at the thrift store. 

Construction can be stressful, but I'm hoping this is quick and [mostly] painless.  I'm so excited to transform this room into something much more special and try to be better about not leaving my Hansel & Gretel craft trail about the place!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Daily Dish - A bread maker and some pizza

I was just searching through my posts and I'm perplexed as to how on earth I have not posted about my bread maker.  You may remember the "great Santa Barbara pizza experiment" from last year.  My brother loves his bread maker and decided he needed to get me one for my birthday.  I'm not sure if it's a sign of age or a sign of loving food that makes kitchen appliances such an appealing gift for me.  Next though, I might be needing new kitchen counters as a gift so I can store all my awesome appliances - will have to put that on my wish list.

Since getting the bread maker, one of our favorite things has become home-made pizza.  I've heard that pizza can be a somewhat healthy and balanced thing to eat - especially if you're using all fresh ingredients instead of the oily, salty, instant-bloat version that you might order from Dominoes.  I was never the biggest fan of pizza, although I do believe I'm being converted.

This version was chicken with portobello mushroom, onion and olives, on a home made pizza sauce, then topped with spinach and mozzarella.  2 slices and I'm full!  That's better than ordering a large pizza with a girlfriend and realizing there's only 2 slices left to finish off the entire pie, so daring each other to do it, and then having to live with the regret.....ask me how I know.

We've also been making some pretty tasty loaves of bread.  The only thing we haven't figured out is how to store them so that they don't go bad quite as quickly.  It's also nice to know that as a rather sucky baker, I can totally cheat make delicious sweets using this machine - banana bread from scratch?  Sure!  It's not cheating if I put all the ingredients in the machine myself... 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Daily Craft - Some recent ventures!

The problem with having so many crafts at my disposal is deciding what to make on any given day.  Some things can be made pretty quickly, allowing me the chance to hop between crafts in a single sitting.  Other things are a much larger time investment.  Recently, I've been tempted by the quicker items - instant gratification for sure.  I've also been trying to build a decent inventory for my online shop, so it can be hard to find a balance between bigger pieces and a nice offering of smaller things to enjoy.  The most important thing though is that I'm still enjoying what I'm making as I'm of the opinion crafting shouldn't be a chore.  My most recent offerings were made in the same night, and are very different, but each fun to make in their own way.

First up is this pair of cluster/dangle earrings.  I'm a little obsessed with these cluster-type earrings.  It allows me to play with different beads that compliment each other, and they're just so cute!  I used a collection of glass beads, each with a slightly different color, shimmer, or size, all hanging from a silver chain.  

I named this pair Brenna, which comes from my Welsh heritage and love of Welsh names.  I find the names so lyrical, therefore decided to keep the Welsh theme for all my jewelry pieces.     

Then I made these quilted coasters using fabric scraps.  I'm not usually into floral prints, but this particular print is so bold - with the pops of bright red for contrast - that I fell in love with it the minute I saw it.  The only thing I'm sad about is not having much more of the fabric at hand seeing as it was a remnant to begin with.  The coasters are a simple but effective design and there is something very therapeutic about creating the quilted design for each.  

Not sure what I'm itching to make next but it's like a food craving and changes from day to day!  Are you multi-craftal (yes, I'm making up words)?  How do you find time for each of your crafts?