Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tried It Liked It Tuesday: The most amazing brussel sprouts ever!

These are good. Reeeeal good. I'm pretty sure I could eat them every single night. Yes, brussel sprouts. I didn't like this veggie until about a year ago. I just had to figure out how to prepare them and now I love them. Give them a try. Really, I think you'll love them, too!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
adapted from Cookie + Kate

1 lb brussel sprouts, rinsed, tips cut off, halved
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1/3 cup feta
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat your broiler.
Set a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat on the stove. Let it heat up for about 2-3 minutes.
In a medium bowl, toss the prepared brussels sprouts with about 1 tbsp olive oil and salt. Toss well, so that the sprouts are evenly coated in a thin layer of oil.
Put the sprouts into the pan and rearrange them so the flat sides are face down. Let them cook for about two minutes.
Toss the cranberries into the pan and transfer the pan to your broiler. The pan will be heavy and hot so use oven mitts for both hands (trust me, I burned my fingers when I forgot this little tidbit).
Let the brussel sprouts broil for about 3-5  minutes. The tops of the sprouts should be browned and the bottoms carmelized. Remove from oven, again using oven mitts.
Toss the brussel sprouts, cranberries, chopped pecans, and feta in a medium sized bowl. Season with salt.

I've made this several times and no two times have been alike. I've used cherries instead of cranberries, walnuts instead of pecans, and no nuts since we were out. I plan on trying this with gorgonzola soon!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

DIY pallet & wedding gift

I am SO happy with how this project turned out! Here's how it all came about...

A couple of weeks ago I was brainstorming ideas for a wedding gift to give to my friend, Kirby, who was about to get married. I'm not sure how this idea came about in my head, but it started taking form and I had something specific in my mind.

First, I enlisted the help of my father-in-law who has a workshop in the basement of their house (thanks, Joe!). Since Matt and I were heading back to Michigan the following weekend for another wedding, I asked him if he'd be willing to purchase and cut the wood to the size I needed. He loves working in his workshop and I don't blame him! I'd be down there using those tools all the time, too!

By the time we had arrived in Michigan, my FIL had cut the wood so that I could make a 12x12 square pallet. Next, I arranged the pieces of wood in the order that I wanted for each pallet (I made two) taking into account the grain and characteristics of the wood.

Each piece of wood was 12 inches wide and just under 2.5 inches tall. I used 5 pallets to make an almost 12 x 12 inch square.

Using one of the extra pallets that was cut, we lined it up in the center on the backside. I used about 10 nails to hold it all together.

Next, I used part of an old white t-shirt to rub on the stain. I didn't want anything too dark since I was going to be using navy blue paint later. I also wanted it to resemble an actual pallet so I chose fruitwood. I made sure to wear gloves for this portion, especially since I was heading to a wedding shortly. The stain was dry after about 2-3 hours, but it was another 2 days until I did anything else to these pallets.

We headed back to Chicago where I finished up the project. I enlarged and printed off the two graphics that I wanted to use - a beard and hair. This was sort of a theme of the wedding. Joshua has a nice, bushy beard and Kirby has beautiful, wild, curly hair. See?

These were the graphics that were on their wedding invite, wedding website, and throughout the wedding reception.

I then traced and cut (I used scissors, but an exacto knife would probably be best) out the graphics onto contact paper which is sticky on one side. I placed that sticky side onto the wood, covered the parts I didn't want to be painted with newspaper, and sprayed away. It took me about 3-4 coats to get the coverage I wanted.

It was reeeeally hard to wait patiently for this to dry. I couldn't wait to see what it looked like. Finally, I was able to remove the newspaper and contact paper.

I loved it! But I wasn't finished yet. I nailed a hook to the back so that it can hang on a wall.

Finally, I wanted these two pieces to have a more distressed look so I grabbed some sandpaper and went to town. However, I was careful to only rub the paint area as I did not want to take off much of the stain.

Here is the end result. I LOVE how it turned out and I can't wait to give this to the newleyweds. Hopefully they don't see this before then!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why I've been MIA

Yep, I've been a little MIA lately. I have lots of delicious recipes to share with you soon and a project that I'm currently working on, but for now I will tell you why I've been MIA. My husband and I are adopting! We're very excited about this and it's kept us pretty busy gathering all the paperwork we need. If you'd like to follow along our journey, check out our other blog by clicking here or on the "Our Adoption" tab at the top of our blog.