» July 2011 «


Saturday + Baked Eggs + Market


This morning was a beautiful Saturday morning. It was one of those mornings that make all that waiting and wishing for the weekend to arrive, completely worthwhile. After setting my alarm for 8 a.m., in an effort not to sleep the day away, I woke up to enjoy a hot cup of java.

Contrary to popular belief, the best part of waking up is not always Folgers. In my case, it was Coffee Co. Tanzanian Peaberry. After a sip of java and a hot shower, I walked around the apartment in my very comfy, over-sized sweats.Next, I set to work making a breakfast treat for my Jakie as he slowly brushed the sleepy from his eyeballs. What was our special Saturday treat? Ramekin baked eggs. Yum!

Lately, I’ve seen numerous versions of baked and coddled eggs: Caprese, southwest, seafood, etc. I decided to throw together my own version. It’s nothing special, just my staple ingredients for the first attempt. I think next time I am going to go with a curried egg theme. Here’s what I did this morning:

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter
6 basil leaves
1 small tomato
1/8 c onion (one slice down an onion, all rings)
pinch of cheddar cheese
2 tsp pepper
dash of salt

Directions:

Butter 2 ramekins. Chop tomato, onion, and basil. Drop 1/2 of each ingredient into the bottom of ramekin, yes salt and pepper too.

Crack one egg (or two if you are really hungry) and drop into the ramekin. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 of veggies, basil, and seasoning on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes.

Carefully remove ramekins from the oven and enjoy! I read numerous articles that also added a hint of cream to the mix. I wanted to give it a shot but totally forgot. If you are brave, go ahead and give it a try. I’ll be sure to include cream next time and let you all know what it added.

Back to my Saturday morning…after enjoying a delicious ramekin baked egg, Jack and I decided to head to the Saturday market to visit Roy and Linda. Here is one of my favorites from the morning.

More market pictures to come. I hope your Saturday was as splendid as mine. Happy weekend!


This and That Sloppy Joes


There are two dishes that I tend to crave without warning, macaroni and cheese and sloppy joes. Luckily, both of these dishes can be quickly thrown together, even with the measly ingredients found in the dark barren wasteland I commonly refer to as my fridge.

Last week, following a particularly hot and muggy day on the farm, I haphazardly threw these ingredients together in the hopes of creating something spectacular. Both Jack and I were VERY happy with the finished result, especially considering how quickly this pulls together. It is oh so tasty! If you don’t have all of these ingredients, feel free to substitute (I always do). As long as there is ketchup and Worcestershire, I don’t think you can fail.

**
Ingredients:**

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Worcestershire
1/4 medium onion
1 tomato, diced
1 small green bell pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp steak seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. ketchup
hamburger buns

Instructions:

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add meat, Worchestershire, and minced garlic. Cook on medium heat until beef is nearly cooked through. Stir occasionally. Add chopped onions, tomato and pepper. Let cook 5 minutes.

Add ketchup, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and steak seasoning. Let cook for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Grate Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!


Guest Post: DIY Bridal Headband


I am very excited to announce that The Kitchen Curtains will now be featuring guest posts! In the past few weeks, I have recruited, if not begged, a few talented individuals to share their crafting, cooking, baking, blogging, and photography skills with you, the reader. I am very excited about these articles and so incredibly grateful to these individuals for taking time out of their busy schedules to contribute to my blog. I am always looking for creative ideas, so please feel free to email me with your own guest post submission ideas, pictures, or articles.

Because I am SO stinkin’ excited about our first guest post, I won’t make you wait any longer. This talented individual runs her very own photography business, with hubby, in the Salem, Oregon area (my home). I have known her since Jr. High and have seen her flourish into a gorgeous, successful, classy, Godly woman. I hold the deepest respect for her and am so excited to introduce you to her today. So, without further ado, here is Kira of Kira Noble Photography. After reading, be sure to head over to her blog and also check out her website for some exquisite wedding, engagement, and family photographs.

 

Hello! I am so excited to be guest blogging over here at The Kitchen Curtains! Here’s a little DIY project that I whipped up for my best friend Amy. She is getting married at the end of this month and I made a headband for her to wear during her wedding reception. She is planning on wearing a veil during the ceremony and then we’ll put this DIY headband in before she and the new hubby dance the night away. I didn’t spend a dime on this project because I happened to have all the materials on hand. That said, most of these items can be found at places like Joanns or Michaels. Okay, so here’s what you’ll need.

1. A length of ribbon or lace that will fit around your head. (I cut the lace after measuring it to the nape of the neck. We are just going to use bobby pins to secure the ends into Amy’s hair instead of tying it off.)
2. 7-8 small rectangular pieces of lace or fabric. I used scraps of swiss dot lace from a previous project.
3. Package of pearl or clear beads.
4. Needle and thread. Be sure to use thread that will match the color of the lace or fabric.
5. Scissors

1. I marked the spot on the headband where I wanted the flowers to go with a pin.

2. Next, I started making the small flowers for the headband. Start with one of the small rectangular strips.

3. Accordion fold the strip. (I usually only got 3-4 folds per strip, but that will vary depending on the length of your rectangular strips.)

4. Thread your needle and tie a knot at the end of thread. Then insert the need through the center of the folded piece of lace or fabric several times until it is secure. Do not tie off or cut the thread yet.

5. A pearl bead will serve as the center of the flower, so next thread the bead through the needle.

6. Let the bead rest in the center of the flower and run the needle and thread back through the lace several times until the bead is secure.

7. Then tie off the thread. Next cut around the edges of the flower to make them round. You can get creative with the cutting around the edges to yield different looking petals.

8.  Next place the flower on the headband and secure it by running your needle and thread near the center of the flower several times.

After securing about 8 flowers to the headband, I filled in some of the space between flowers by sewing in pearl beads. There is no right or wrong in DIY land. That’s all folks! What do you think? Stay tuned for a close up photo of how this headband looked on Amy, and if you try this DIY out I’d love to see your end product!


Munsey Wedding


The past two weekends have been full of wedding frenzy. Two weekends ago, I helped out a friend by coordinating her special day and this past weekend, Kristin and I hosted a bridal luncheon for a sweet bride out at the farm. Linda was on a family vacation so it was up to us to plan the luncheon, cater, and put together the arrangements for the wedding. So, although busy, it has been a fun two weeks. I’m now thinking my nursing degree may be the financial backing for an event planning/flower arranging/catering hobby, if indeed you can call that a “hobby.” Now I just need some clients.

Anyways, back to the wedding…the ceremony was held at Munsey United Methodist Church, which has one of the most exquisite sanctuaries (see below). The bride was very laid back (which we always appreciate) and was happy to use whatever was blooming on the farm for the arrangements. Lucky for her, there are lots and lots of beautiful flowers blooming on the farm right now.

We tied shepherd’s hooks to the ends of the aisles with raffia and hung ball jars on each filled with a variety of wildflowers. The sanctuary is very large and to line every row with flowers, although exquisite, would have been very expensive. Instead, we adorned every other aisle for the first 10 rows. I was worried the flowers might get lost in the sanctuary but was pleasantly surprised with the finished result.

Here’s a close-up of one of our ball jars for you.

The front of the sanctuary has a set of stairs, followed by a choir loft and then a back altar area, all very intricate. In order to not have the main arrangements overshadowed, they had to be big, bold, and beautiful. I think we succeeded!

Here’s a close-up of the main arrangements. These are compiled of sunflowers, lisianthus, feathered black-eyed susans and various grasses.

At the bridal luncheon on Friday, I helped our bride, Anna, put together her bouquet. The final arrangement consisted of dahlias, zinnias, limelight hydrangeas, and lisianthus. The green collar around the outside is a bubby bush, which is also commonly referred to as either sweet shrub or carolina allspice.

I also braided ribbon down the stem of her bouquet.

Kristin and I used lisianthus buds, frosted explosion, ivy leaves, and blue thistle to make a few varieties of boutonnieres.

Ball Jar Arrangements:

Shasta Daisies, Dahlias, Green Zinnias, Pink Lisianthus

Zinnias and Sunflowers

Pink Zinnia, Lisianthus, Ageratum

This wedding was simple and elegant, a combination I love. As you can see, wedding or event flowers do not have to match to go together and be beautiful. You can mix a wide variety of flowers, fillers, and color and still end up with a unified presentation.

I hope these wedding pictures give you a bit of inspiration today. Happy arranging!


Crumble Top Zucchini Bread


Working in the Milligan College public relations office has given me the opportunity to test out various recipes on the hardworking individuals in my building. Luckily, they make it easy for me as a few days ago, a bag of squash and 3 very very large zucchinis were left on the back table for whomever wanted to take them. I, of course, couldn’t pass up the opportunity and decided to try my luck at baking my first batch of zucchini bread.

After perusing 30-or-so zucchini bread recipes, and realizing I could not, in fact, choose just one, I instead decided to combine a few recipes and techniques for my very own version of zucchini bread.

The finished result was very moist and sweet (would you expect anything else?). I am in love! This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread. The zucchini was so large I only ended up using half of it to get my 3 cups worth of shredded zucchini. However, I believe 2 normal-sized zucchinis should be enough for you.

Bread Ingredients:

3 eggs
1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 c. vegetable oil
dash of nutmeg
3 cups flour
2 cups white sugar
3 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Crumble Topping:

4 tbsp. butter (melted)
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. brown sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease 2 bread loaf pans. I also sprinkled flour in the bottom of mine to help keep it from sticking.

Whisk eggs until frothy. Add in sugar, vanilla, applesauce, and oil. Combine well. Add in 1/2 of the flour mixture, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Grate zucchini and add to mixture. Add remaining flour. Mix well. Pour mixture into 2 loaf pans.

Combine crumble topping ingredients well. You want the flour and sugar to kind of stick together into little granola-like clusters. Sprinkle on top of batter.

Place loafs into the oven for 60-70 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Update: I received a comment recently about difficulty getting the center of the loaf to cook through. I’ve made this recipe a few times and it was always cooked through so I’m thinking it could be my oven which tends to run a bit hot. I’d recommend testing your loaf with a toothpick and adjusting the temperature and cook time accordingly. Thanks for the feedback!

Allow to cool and enjoy!


Cookbook Review


Following a busy weekend as wedding coordinator in Mechanicsville, Virginia, I came home to find a wonderful surprise. After a long year of watching and waiting, and waiting and watching, and perhaps a little impatient complaining, Whitney Miller’s first ever cookbook finally arrived at my front door. Miller is the season 1 winner of MasterChef (summer 2010). Her new cookbook, “Modern Hospitality” has been one year in the making and is 172 pages long.

In the past two years I have become quite obsessed with cooking shows, mainly those involving either Chef Curtis Stone or my all-time favorite, Gordon Ramsay. Last summer’s MasterChef became an instant favorite with the 22-year-old Southern underdog, Whitney Miller, rising to the forefront. I enjoyed watching Whitney create her dishes because she uses simple ingredients and simple techniques to create fabulous looking and I’m sure, fabulous tasting food. Although she is far more skilled than I am (and younger, I will now swallow my pride), I feel that our cooking methods and priorities are similar, therefore, I can’t wait to dive into her cookbook.

Whitney’s cookbook is a modern twist on Southern cooking and hospitality. She takes many of the “boring” and less-sought-after vegetables and somehow manages to glamorize them.

Some of my favorite recipes so far include a carrot souffle, cauliflower mac n’ cheese, upside down quiche, turnip green pesto, and pulled pork BBQ. She also gives a southern affogato recipe. Affogato is a type of ice cream dessert, usually in the form of a scoop of gelato with shots of espresso over the top. When I was living in Ukraine, this was one of my all-time favorite treats. Whitney’s version has a home-made butter pecan ice cream. Yummy!

If you can’t tell yet, I am so excited to dive into this great southern cookbook. So, off I go. I’ll be sure to update you all as I cook my way through Whitney’s recipes.


Spray Paint Patio Lights


Last summer I bought these cute little yellow glass lanterns at a thrift store for $2. I liked the yellow because it is summer color, but this yellow was too dark for my tastes. My solution? Spray paint. A few days ago, while going through my nightly routine of catching up on the 48 or so blogs I have bookmarked, I saw these lanterns that were painted with a glow-in-the-dark paint (which was awesome). I, however, couldn’t justify spending the money on glow in the dark paint for just one project. Instead, I chose an indoor/outdoor $.97 can of pure white, thinking by the time I put a candle inside it’ll glow all by itself. I know, I’m pretty clever like that.

Can I just say, that although these almost look like little milk jugs, I absolutely love the finished product. The paint has an almost marbled look with tiny hints of yellow showing through which give it lots of texture. I have the lanterns sitting in between my pepper plants at the moment just waiting for me to attach them to the our porch railing.

If you have old jars, tins, or frames that you think you will never display in your home, don’t discount the power a new coat of paint can make, turning old and grungy into new and modern.


Mini Blueberry Pies


The Fourth of July is far from my favorite holiday. Can I say that without getting into trouble? I think it has something to do with having to stay up late to enjoy fireworks that only last about 10 minutes. I have never been a night owl, and I fear that the older I get, the earlier and earlier I hit the sack.

I have many wonderful memories from the fourth. I enjoy families gathering together, the variety of BBQ smells wafting through the neighborhood, my father lighting fireworks from on top of a ladder in order to give us more height (that’s my favorite). One more thing I love about the 4th of July, bountiful blueberries. I picked fresh blueberries once and the experience somehow sold me on the fruit. Blueberries are, simply put, a fun fruit. Small, blue, sweet and tart all at the same time. They can be used in salads, pies, and drinks. So much versatility. Seeing as I have an insatiable sweet tooth, this week I opted for the traditional blueberry pie, in mini form.

mini blueberry pie

For this recipe, I simply threw in a mixture of powders and sugars hoping the proportions were right. I think you will agree, the finished result was exceptional. I also finally found the perfect ramekins for me at World Market (yes, I am a picky ramekin shopper). They’re blue and I’m in love! I was so excited to fill them with mini blueberry pies that I couldn’t even wait until the 4th.

Filling Ingredients:

1 pint fresh blueberries
1/3 c. flour
3/4 c. white sugar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon
1 egg
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 stick of butter

Crust Ingredients:

2 c. flour
2/3 c. shortening
7 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions:

Wash blueberries and let drip dry while you make your pie crust.

Mix flour, salt and shortening by hand. I use a fork to press the shortening into the flour to make it crumbly. Once the mixture is crumbly, add in the water 1 tbsp. at a time.

Roll out the dough and 4 circles 1-1/2 times the size of your ramekin as well as 4 circles that just fit the size of your ramekins.

In a large bowl, mix blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon. Let sit for 10 minutes so the blueberry juices absorb the sugar.

Press large dough circles into the bottom of the ramekins. Scoop blueberry mixture into each dish. Cover the top of blueberries with 3-4 thin slices of butter. Cover with dough and twist edges into each other.

mini blueberry pie

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Pair with vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy!

Servings: 4 Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes