Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daily Dish - Mini Pumpkin Muffins

Continuing the Halloween theme for the week, my friend Holly over at Indie Home Ec sent me this recipe for mini pumpkin muffins and promised even I wouldn't be able to completely bugger it up.  So, I gave it a shot...

If any of you have been paying attention to what I cook, you may have noticed that baking is not on the list of things that I do (albeit on the list of things I'd like to do better).  I figure most people fall into either the cooking or the baking category.  I'm firmly in the cooking camp seeing as I generally don't measure things, which is really a problem when trying to bake, and my past attempts at baking have been, um, "questionable."

Pumpkin Pie Spice (makes 1 tsp):
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice (or clove)

I think it says enough about my usual baking skills when husband got home from class, walked into the kitchen to find me blending flour-y stuff with pumpkin-y stuff, and the first words out of his mouth are "I can't believe you're baking...and it's not from a box".  As if that wasn't bad enough, while I was happily filling the regular sized muffin cups, I asked him to grab the mini muffin tray from the cabinet.  He says, "you mean this one?  In the wrapper?"  Yes, the one we got as a wedding gift...nearly 4 years ago.

Regardless, 25 minutes later, I had a batch of muffins ready for cooling and tasting.  We both ate one and success!  They were moist, tasty, not deformed (which is more of an accomplishment for me than you might realize) and, as husband pointed out, "at least you didn't burn them".  It has to be said, the recipe is pretty foolproof as the pumpkin keeps everything nice and moist; plus they're not bad for you.  100 calories for 3 mini muffins (or 1 regular sized muffin as an estimate) is almost completely guilt free.  I just wish I'd had a little more granola to sprinkle on top.

I finally baked something from scratch that is worthy of feeding to other people - and even brought some to work.  I'm happy to report that all of my co-workers survived and none of them seem to have called in with food poisoning, so we'll call this one a win!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Daily Craft - Blood Lust!

With Halloween only a week away, my posts seem to be developing a bit of a theme!  Sunday night, a friend of mine commissioned me to make her a custom jewelry set (earrings, necklace, bracelet) for Halloween.  Time permitting of course, I'm always up for the challenge of a custom order and I knew this one would be fun given the theme.  We agreed upon red and black, and I wanted to make something that suggested Halloween, but can be worn year round.  Here's what I came up with!

My inspiration began with the red crackle glass beads, which really suggested blood drops to me.  I'm also a big fan of the black/grey ombre as the beads look different from every angle!  At first, I was torn between mixing up black and silver wire to connect the beads, but after playing around for a little bit, decided that the silver was going to be a cleaner look.  I'm calling the set "blood lust" seeing as it has a certain vampire glam (although I guess vampires wouldn't want to be wearing a ton of silver).  Hoping the recipient will find many uses for these pieces beyond the upcoming 'holiday'!

In other news, while shopping for beads, I noticed that Joann was getting rid of their Halloween costumes at 60% off.  I will admit that the last couple of years, I've been a complete slacker with preparing my costume and this year, haven't come up with any ideas whatsoever.  Now, while I didn't find any costumes that I could just buy, I did find a pretty amazing mullet with mustache wig set....and now I'm inspired.  Stay tuned for more on that!  :)

Are you dressing up for Halloween?  Do you have your costume ready, or just slacking like I am?!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Daily Ramblings - Getting Halloweeny!

Halloween decorations have started going up in my office, which means it's time for me to bust out my night lamp (received as part of a Dexter swap last year).  Hopefully this will make clearing paper jams more entertaining.

Of course, it's also been fun to have the leg hiding in my office all year.  During the spring, one of my interns was in my office when I had to take a call.  At some point, while I was on the call, he noticed a toe sticking out from behind a file and tentatively pulled out the leg with a look of puzzlement on his face.  It took everything I had not to bust up laughing on the phone, and then had to explain to the intern after that even "professionals" (as I am of course) are permitted to be silly / twisted / not quite right in the head.

Do you have Halloween decorations up in your office?  Share!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Daily Ramblings - Making space

For months now, I've been putting together a bag of clothing for donation.  It was hanging out in the hall closet and occasionally, I'll pull something that I haven't worn in a year or so out of my closet and throw it in there.  This weekend, I decided that it was time to get rid of this bag, and be a little more severe with purging my closet - resulting in 5 bags and a box filled with shirts, dresses, sweaters, shoes.... It definitely feels good to be rid of these things, and hopefully Goodwill will make good use of them.

How often do you purge your closet?  I suspect I should do it more often!  I don't tend to shop for clothing a lot, so now I have a nice gaping space where new clothes are supposed to go I guess. Perhaps this will encourage me to actually use some of the sewing patterns I've got stashed away.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Daily Dish - Ahi Tuna Salad

Firstly, before I share last night's culinary masterpiece, I want to wish my parents a Happy Anniversary!  They're celebrating 33 years today, and that's definitely worth a mention.  :)

Now, on to the food...
Usually when I've cooked something that looks awesome, I'll snap a shot on my phone and upload it straight to Facebook.  This meal was particularly well received, and I haven't done a recipe post in a while, so I figured I'd share.

A little while back, Living Social was doing a $10 for $20 coupon for Whole Foods.  Now, usually I don't frequent Whole Foods at all - it's just not my thing and is generally well outside my rather streamlined grocery budget.  [I also don't love the fact that in my experience, Trader Joes and Whole Foods have consistently terrible parking lots that make me crazy before I even get into the store.]  However, our entire intent with this coupon was to splurge on some fish that we wouldn't ordinarily buy at our regular grocery store...and that we did! 

Seared Ahi Tuna salad with a ginger-citrus soy dressing.
These are estimates, so adjust according to taste!    
1/2 cup Soy sauce
2 tbsp Sesame oil
2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 Lime, juiced
2 tbsp Orange juice
2 tbsp Ground ginger
1/2 tsp Black pepper
Green onion

Red bell pepper, sliced
Carrot, sliced
Green onion
Jalepeno, finely sliced (this is optional, but gave
it a really nice kick!)

Of course, you can really put whatever you
want in the salad, this is just what we did.

The tuna already had a ginger-soy marinade on it, so the only addition was to sprinkle some sesame seeds on it.  Then, we got a pan going nice and hot with some olive oil, then seared the fish for about a minute each side.  Once that was done, we sliced it over the salad and poured the dressing over.  Delicious AND healthy!  This is something we'll make again, should we be feeling the need to splurge.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Daily Chuckles - This little guy's a stud

I've been quiet this week, but working on some stuff that I can share soon I hope.  In the meantime...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Daily Craft - Tiny Little Stitches

I am excited to say that I got a decent start on my cardigan over the weekend.  I could have gone on a search for the perfect yarn online, but to be honest I'm too impatient for that.  That's several days of knitting time that I would have lost while waiting for delivery!  I ended up buying Lion Brand Sock-Ease from Michaels, which is a wool/nylon blend and also states that it's machine washable, and can even be put in the dryer.  Caution says I'll likely be using my trusty hand-wash setting on the front-loader then line drying, lest I end up with a cardigan better suited for a toddler.  The materials cost about $25, which is not unreasonable (yay coupons!)  I will admit to originally being attracted to the pretty variegated sock yarn colors and spent quite a bit of time musing over the potential to avoid bad color pooling or inconsistent stripes.  In the end I decided I'd be better off with a plain color and chose this green (which is actually much more olive in person). 

As much as I enjoy working lace and cables, I'm actually really happy that this is a nice plain stitch because it feels like it's working up pretty quickly, despite the tiny little stitches.  I've done 5.5" so far, and feeling like I'm getting somewhere at least.  Wishful thinking says I really will be done by the holidays...