For our 2018 Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to honor the 20th anniversary of our beloved Harry Potter, and of course, have a Hogwarts-themed dinner, complete with the most wizardly decorations. I wanted to get an early start on making the decorations because […]
Ah, yes, it’s that time of year when being “busy” kicks into overdrive, and so begins the start of numerous birthdays, office parties, Fall Equinox, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Winter Solstice and Christmas. The last quarter of the year is kind of crazy for most of us, and it is especially busy for me. One of the things I rely on everyday to keep myself organized during all of the chaos is my beloved Pinterest.
If you don’t use Pinterest, you’re missing out on something useful and wonderfully inspirational. It is a visual search engine, rich with colorful images that are web links, which you can save. When you click on something of interest, each visual search will produce similar suggestions below it. (Like Google, with never ending pictures.) You can save any images/links that you like, and these are called PINS. The pins typically go back to, or in someway link to the original source, such as DIY plans or a beer making recipe. You can keep these pins organized into categories called, BOARDS, to come back to later. You may even take it a step further by arranging your boards into sections when you begin to accumulate a lot of pins.
My passion for how useful Pinterest can be is due to my ever-growing recipe collection. I’ve pinned recipes that stretch across the global culinary and diet spectrums. My Pinterest boards contain everything from elaborate holiday meal plans and spicy Indian, to island style food and impressive appetizers. My most popular recipe board to date, is Best Vegan Recipes where some of my own recipes are pinned directly from this website, as well as many others from talented foodies and chefs from all over the world.
When it is Mostly Vegan Monday’s at my house, I normally look to Pinterest for inspiration. I recently searched for something using butternut squash, and within minutes, had found the perfect recipe based upon the ingredients I had on hand. The recipe turned out amazing, and so I saved it to my Best Vegan Recipes board, under the section, Soups, Stews and Chili’s.
Another bonus with Pinterest, is that I’ve avoided multiple near-disasters by having the app on my phone, and was able to quickly pull up saved recipes at the grocery store. If your local store or market is out of an ingredient, you can also do a quick search for a substitute recipe. Remember how I mentioned that all pins have similar suggestions below it? Click on your recipe, scroll down, and you’ll see similar suggestions that might be just what you need. Boom. Pinterest just saved the day.
It’s true that we’ve all have busy days ahead of us, and who has the brain-space to remember every little thing that you need for that up coming party you’re throwing? Just save all of your favorite search ideas, recipes and plans by pinning them onto a board titled, “Parties”. An added bonus by having the app, is that you will now have a portable party planner on your phone. Genius!! Graduations, baby showers, birthdays, and weddings just got a whole lot easier with this little bit of Pinterest organization in your life. Hmmm… want a Nerf gun themed party, with obstacle course, bulls-eye cake and targets? Got it right here:
Pinterest is a lot of useful things, but keep in mind, it is not like FB because it isn’t necessarily a verbal social interaction tool. It’s more like a briefcase of images and ideas that you save. There are areas on Pinterest for comments and leaving feedback, but again, it is not as much of a verbal exchange platform as it is a visual one. For a visual person like myself, I’m obsessed with an app like this, and can happily do without the negative banter and vitriol you’ll find elsewhere. Just show me the pretty pictures, and my creative brain starts running full speed ahead.
Pinterest is my daily go-to app for activities I do throughout the day and functions as a highly beneficial tool for my lifestyle. It’s my meal making guide (recipe box), gardening & plant guide, craft idea vision board, DIY catalog of plans and ideas, as well as the keeper of other saved ideas and inspirations. Our teenager likes to save beauty related pins and create boards about make-up tutorials, fashion, and style ideas. The best part about Pinterest is that you can do whatever you want, there is no right or wrong.
If you haven’t tried using Pinterest, I recommend giving it a try. If you just want to check out what mine is like before you start to build your own, go to my home page to look at the inspirational pins and boards I have saved. Who knows, you may get hooked on Pinterest too.
When I woke up yesterday and realized that I would be stuck inside for a few days because of Hurricane Lane, my mind went immediately to bagels. On holiday mornings, our family indulges in eating bagels with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, fresh tomato, and onion. When it’s a holiday, we are normally distracted by gift-giving and meal preparation, but this time, the situation was different, and I actually had time to think about what I could do. Since bagel making is no easy feat, I decided that I could take my time and not rush the painstaking bagel process. I’ve had many bagel disasters that turned out to be dense, rip-your-teeth-out, pucks of hard tack.
All together, I’ve had some recipes that were great, and some that were complete disasters. Part of the biggest challenge with making perfect bagels lies in my environment, which is at a tricky and humid ‘4000 elevation. If you’re like me, it may take you a few tries to find the perfect recipe for your cooking environment and particular culinary taste. The preference of bagel texture and tastes are often very personal and/or rooted in tradition, and I tend to prefer a New York Jewish-style bagel and consider anything else blasphemy.
One of the better bagel recipes I’ve come across, is this one by Peter Reinhart. This recipe makes a good-sized batch, and has more of the chewy, mildly, dense texture as opposed to the more bread-like texture of the store bought varieties. Since I did not have bread flour like stated in the original recipe, I added vital wheat gluten and also switched out a cup of white for wheat flour. **If you have bread flour on hand, you can skip the wheat gluten in this recipe. Overall, this is a good base to start with, and you could add savory flavors to the dough, like sundried tomatoes or chopped Kalamata olives. You could also just as easily turn these into cinnamon raisin bagels by adding 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and a cup of raisins.
- 1 teaspoons yeast
- 3 cups AP flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water DOUGH
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 4 1/2 cups AP flour
- 4 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon baking soda (set aside) TOPPING SUGGESTIONS: Garlic, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sea salt, cracked pepper
- Make the sponge in advance by combining the yeast, AP flour, wheat flour and water in a large bowl. Cover with a towel and let rest for about 1 1/2 hours, or until expanded and bubbly.
- In the same bowl, add the remaining yeast, additional AP flour, vital wheat gluten, salt and agave. Carefully knead the mixture to incorporate all of the flour, about 8-10 minutes. The dough should feel firm, but smooth. If dough is too sticky, add a few tablespoons of flour until it feels somewhat firmer. (This is not as soft as normal bread dough, but should not be too stiff either!)
- Divide dough into 12 or 24 evenly sized pieces and roll around in your palm until smooth, and then place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let the dough balls rest for 30 minutes.
- Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper and begin shaping bagels by poking a hole into the center of the piece. Gradually widen the center hole to approximately 1 1/2 inches. (It should look a lot like a donut.) Then, place 12 bagels per large sheet, a few inches apart. Let bagels rest again for 30 minutes at room temperature and them put in the refrigerator (for at least two hours) or overnight. I did mine overnight for this.
- When you are ready to begin cooking the bagels, preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure to put the oven racks in the middle of the oven for even baking.
- Bring a very wide pot, filled with several inches of water, and the remaining teaspoon of baking soda to a boil. Using a wide, slotted spoon or spatula, carefully slip the bagels into the boiling water. Flip each one gently over after 1-2 minutes and boil each side.
- Remove bagels from the boiling water back onto the parchment lined baking sheets. If you can, do this as quickly as possible so that you can start putting on the toppings while the bagels are still sticky.
- Brush the tops of each bagel with olive oil and heavily dust your toppings over the top of each one. Place them in the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes on 500 degrees. Turn down the temperature to 450 degrees and rotate sheet pans so that they cook more evenly. Cook for another 5-6 minutes or until light brown and remove from oven. I like to leave them on the trays until they are completely cool because I like the bottoms a little more crisp, but you can remove them from the trays right away of you prefer.
Aloha, Friends! I just wanted to share a quick and healthy way to celebrate your holiday tomorrow. My inspiration for this one came from one of my favorite places to look for ideas, Pinterest! This adorable idea from ‘This Healthy Table’ is a real crowd pleaser and tastes soooo good on a hot day. I’ve pinned it to my board “Celebrations and Party Ideas”.
These are unbelievably easy to prepare and they add a festive look to your barbeque spread. Since many folks already plan on buying a watermelon, you only need grab a few additional things, like fresh blueberries, a star cookie cutter, and wooden skewers. FYI…if you don’t have a star shaped cutter, but do have a flower shaped one, or something similar, use it! They would come out just as cute. 🙂
The photos show my watermelon looking a little more orange than red, and that’s because I used a smaller Thai watermelon. If you are feeding a large crowd, you may want to get the more common, larger size watermelon. I made ten skewers with one small watermelon and a pint of fresh blueberries.
For my recipe, I cut approximately 1/2 inch thick slices across the width of the melon. I recommend you cut your melon slices a little less thick than the size of your cutter. You will have many circles of melon to work with and then next you will push the cutter into the middle of the circle (seedless) part. This is the best tasting part of the melon and also the most red in color, so it’s going to look great with those plump blueberries.
Next, stick the sharp end of the skewer through about 10-14 blueberries, (depending upon the size of skewers and berries), leaving a couple of inches at the bottom for holding on to, and at the top for your melon star. Stick a melon star on the top of each one and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. If you can pre-cut the melon, this would be a fun dish for ‘little hands’ to help you prepare. Happy Summer!
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Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, and because summertime is in full-swing, I wanted to do something decadent with berries. Our family doesn’t care much for the store-bought bakery cakes that are thick with waxy frosting or a dull tasting fondant. Eww. No, we like things […]