Thursday, March 30, 2017

{Entertaining} Irish Night 2017

Another Irish Night on the books and it was a great one.   It was a small gathering this year which was just right.
 I like to post about it so I'll remember what we served and any other details that made it special.  This recipe for Irish Soda Bread has been the one I've made for the past few years and I haven't found one that I like better.
It's always nice to have fresh flowers.
 Getting my Irish on!
 I try to keep the menu simple with Irish food and/or green food.  Green grapes, Dubliner Irish cheddar infused with Irish whiskey and my cucumber shamrock.
 It was chilly enough to have a fire and up the cozy factor.
 I'm so happy I remembered to snap some food photos (for once!).
{Menu-What I made}
Shepherd's Pie (one turkey/one veggie)
Our guests brought lots of goodies too! 
{Delicious Additions}
Raspberry Cheese Plate
Hoagie Dip
Broccoli Rabe
Goat Cheese with plum preserves

I'm so glad our tradition continues!
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

{Recipe} Another Lentil Loaf (and Mashed Potatoes)

I've tried a couple of lentil loaf recipes over the years and this Lentil Rice Loaf from Straight Up Food looked like another good one to try.  
I usually make lentil loaves for special occasions, as they seem a bit fancy and labor intensive. I made this one on a weeknight with oil-free mashed potatoes, my vegan go-to gravy and broccoli.
Mushrooms, onions and celery get sauteed with spices, using only water while the lentils and rice cooks in another pot.
Once all of the ingredients are cooked, they have to be pulsed a few times in a food processor. My Cuisinart is on hiatus due to a blade recall (that is taking FOREVER!) so I had to use my mini food processor and it took about 6 rounds to process all of the ingredients (that got a little time consuming!).  The end result is a lovely blend of savory goodness that then gets baked in the oven.
 Meanwhile I cooked some Yukon gold potatoes in veggie broth until tender.
They whip up so nicely with just the addition of the broth they cooked in (added by ladlefuls until they are the consistency you like.  No butter or milk needed!
 Of course we needed some gravy and this I Can't Believe It's Vegan Gravy has never failed me.
Dinner is served! I could go for all of this right now.  I've included the two other lentil loaf recipes that I've tried and enjoyed.
Glazed Apple Walnut Loaf from Oh She Glows
Puffed Pastry Wrapped Lentil Loaf from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

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Friday, March 24, 2017

{Photography} First Baby Photo Shoot

I got to do my first official baby photo shoot with this dreamy guy. #awesome
 He had just turned a month old, so not exactly a newborn shoot but still quite new around here.
 He was such a little charmer and I couldn't get enough of this sweet guy!
 He really liked my faux sheepskin rug.
 His mom and I had both seen this idea on Pinterest so we tried it out. It's one of my favorites!  I'll have another version of it in my Project 52.
 Awww, in one of his daddy's ties.
Mama's hands and baby's feet=❤️

Even superheroes need to recharge their batteries.
I mean, come on...
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

{Recipe} Cauliflower Colcannon-Vegan, Oil Free

I was introduced to colcannon when our friends brought it to Irish Night one year and we've requested it for every Irish Night since.  Traditionally it's a decadent, creamy mashed potato and kale or cabbage dish with lots of butter.  I've had a lot of luck with cauliflower mashed potatoes lately and got the awesome idea to try and make colcannon with them instead of potatoes.  My version uses a combination of kale and coleslaw mix with the cauliflower because that's what I had on hand.  I didn't use any oil or butter and it still came out creamy and flavorful.  Give it a try if you want a healthier alternative to traditional colcannon or if you're a fan of cauliflower, cabbage and kale like me!

Cauliflower Colcannon
1 med-large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
 4 cups chopped greens (kale and/or cabbage) *I used 3 cups of chopped kale, 1 cup of coleslaw mix
3 leeks, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
To make:
Boil cauliflower in medium sized pot until tender (or steam in microwave).  In a skillet over medium heat, add a little water (or optional oil) and sauté leeks with garlic, being careful not to brown the garlic.  Add kale and/or cabbage and cook until tender.
Meanwhile, process cooked cauliflower in a high speed blender or food processor until smooth (you can add some dairy free milk if it needs a little to get it going). 
Combine mashed cauliflower with kale/leek mixture in a bowl and stir well.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Pour into an oven safe dish. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes until golden brown.
This is how it looks before it goes into the oven.
Serve with some veggie sausage links for a traditional Irish meal.
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Monday, March 20, 2017

{Get Organized} Memory Album Labels

We moved our photo albums from the open shelving in the family room into the cabinets below and I wanted to reorganize them so I'd be able to access photos more easily.
The previous system I used to label albums (almost 7 years ago to the day!) wasn't working for me anymore and I needed something more permanent.  The charms were falling off or the labels would fall out of the charms. I really needed a new system.
 I did some searches and didn't find anything for my style of albums (Creative Memory cloth covers) so I had to figure out something on my own. #thehorror   These Martha Stewart adhesive metal bookplates were featured in some organizing posts but not for albums. I decided to give them a try and at first only bought one pack of them to test them out.
They have a pretty strong adhesive and seemed to hold onto the fabric covers well so it was a go!
 I had to visit a few Staples to get all of the packs I needed. I went through each album and wrote down the dates of the photos it contained.  The bookplates are not cheap($3.99/pack) but they seem very sturdy and I can change the information out if I ever need to.
 I created a document in Pages on my Mac to make the labels.  The packs contain inserts for the bookplates but I wanted mine to look consistent so I printed my own on card stock.  I was able to fit six on a page.
I used the backing from the labels to cut out a template for the cards.  The backing is translucent so it made it easy to figure out where I wanted to cut around the card stock.  It was a slow a process but worth it.
I love the new look of my albums and how easy it is now to identify what year of photos is in each book!

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

{Recipe}Three Bean Quinoa Chili

Lately I've been all about trying to recreate soups I've had a local cafe.  This time it was their veggie chili.  I've made lots of vegetarian chilis ....
White Bean Vegetarian Chili

..but this one was different.   It had quinoa in it which I've never added to chili.  
 Time to try and break it down!  Here's my inspiration photo.  You can see it has chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, corn, celery and quinoa in it.
Three Bean Quinoa Chili
1 small-medium onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups cooked quinoa
3 (15.5 oz) cans of beans of your choice (I used black, pinto and kidney-forgot the chickpeas!), drained and rinsed
2 (14.5 oz) cans of chopped tomatoes 
2 TBS tomato paste
1/2 -1 cup frozen corn (optional-I also forgot to add this)
1-2 TBS chili powder (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
To make:
Saute the onion, celery, garlic and peppers in some water or olive oil until translucent.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Adjust seasoning to taste.
Enjoy with your favorite toppings.

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