Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pesto Risotto

There was a restaurant nearby us, South Side Steele, that served pesto risotto as the side to their Chilean Sea Bass. It was my husband and his best friend's hang out and I would occasionally meet them there for dinner.  Their food was amazing and they had a great beer selection.  My husband is still sad the restaurant closed after a little more than a year.
The pesto risotto might have been the side dish, but it was stealing the show.  I was ordering the fish just so I could enjoy the pesto risotto.  
I have made this many times and it is always amazing.
This is a great recipe to make right now to use up some garden basil and it's not too hot out.  Making risotto is very hot!

printable recipe
Pesto Risotto- recipe by me and the back of the Wegmans brand box of the risotto.  (I used the back of the box to tell me the ratio of liquid to risotto and the cooking technique.) Serves 4 as main dish, 6 as side dish.

6 1/2 cups chicken broth or water (broth is more flavorful)
2 cups risotto
3 T butter
1 cup good olive oil
4 cloves garlic (use less or more to your taste)
1/4 c pine nuts (or walnuts or no nuts, its up to you)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 tightly packed cups of fresh basil
few cracks of black pepper
pinch of salt

Add olive oil, garlic and pine nuts to a food processor or blender.  (I used a blender.)  After the garlic and nuts are chopped, add the basil, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese.  Blend until smooth.  Set aside.

In a small sauce pan heat the chicken broth.  In a large pan melt the butter and stir in the risotto on medium-high heat with a wooden spoon.  Let the risotto soak up all the butter, stirring constantly.  Add 1 cup of broth and stir the risotto until the broth has all been absorbed.  Slowly add the broth one cup at a time (I use a ladle) and stir constantly making sure each cup full of broth has been absorbed before adding more.  Did I mention stir constantly? You have to stir it constantly the entire time to have a creamy risotto.  When you have 1 cup of broth left only add 1/4 at a time, you might not need to use all of it.  Taste the risotto, it should be creamy with a little al dente bite.  It shouldn't be crunchy.

When the risotto is ready turn off the heat and stir in the pesto.  Use a little extra basil to garnish if you wish.  Serve as a side dish, or a main dish.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Owl Hat

 Peanut Butter is going to be an owl for Halloween.  
My Mom sent him this owl stuffed animal and he is more owl crazy than ever.  

 I decided I was going to upcycle his costume so when I saw Cheryl's Upcycled Boy Hat, I knew it would be the hat for his costume.
I loved how she added embellishments with stitching and buttons, so I added the owl's face using felt onto the hat.

I changed one thing from her pattern.  I kept the top piece a rectangle so that there would be pointy ears on the hat. Before I sewed the face on, it reminded me of a Batman mask... I might have to make one of those in the future.
The top section is a little big.  I might sew it down a little so it fits more snugly.  
When he saw himself in the hat, he said a very excited, "OWL!"

The brown t-shirt I used said professional air guitarist, I really wanted to get all that on there, but his head is so small! This was so simple, I am going to whip up 2 more hats for me and my husband to wear on Halloween too.  

Check out the tutorial over at I Am Momma- Hear Me Roar!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Orange Candle Holder

This was a gift from my wonderful husband.  It is made of slumped glass.  I am obsessed with glass and the slumping technique.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pants from shirt sleeves

These are the quickest pair of pants I have ever made! I only spent about 15 minutes on them, it would have been less but I made a mistake pinning the waistband and had to redo it.  Next time I think they will be 10 minute pants!!
The best part is that I only had to sew 2 sides, the shirt cuffs are the hem for the pants.

I found this men's XL waffle orange shirt at a thrift store when I was looking for shirts for Peanut Butter's halloween costume.  When I saw the sleeves I knew they were going to be the legs for a refashioned pair of pants.

I took a pair of pants that are a little bit big and laid them out on the sleeves.  I cut around the pants, a little bigger on the crotch side and about the same size on the top.  (These pants have a very long crotch and I have to fold the pants over twice.)

Once the pants were cut I pinned the right sides together and sewed the crotch seam using a zig zag stitch.  Then I made a pocket for the elastic and fed the elastic through and sewed up the opening.  
It couldn't be any easier!  
He still needs the top folded over, but in a few months they will fit perfectly!

I am participating in the Get Your Craft On with Today's Creative Blog link party!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thrifty finds for Halloween Costume

I picked up these shirts at the thrift store for $10!  These shirts along with a yard of brown fleece are going to make up Peanut Butter's Halloween costume.  Stay tuned to see how I upcycle these shirts into an OWL costume!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Owl Cake Pops

I just picked up Bakerella's book Cake Pops.  
Confession:  There were owls on the cover.  When I saw that, the book was one-click ordered before I even knew what happened.  So of course the first cake pop I made was OWLS!!!

My first attempt at cake pops went pretty well.  It was very easy and I will definitely do it again.  It took me about 2 hours to dip and decorate all the pops.

I did plain cake pops with jungle sprinkles as well as owls.  Some of my owls were a little wonky, but they were still delicious!

The cake/icing/chocolate combination was:
Dark chocolate cake/ dark chocolate icing/ dark chocolate for dipping
Very decadent and very delicious!!

Peanut Butter went crazy when he saw all the owls!  All I heard all morning was, "owl, owl...OWL!!!"  it was very cute and so worth the time to make them.  

Check out Bakerella for more of her amazing ideas and there is a great how to video here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Orange Owl

I got the most fantastic surprise in my mailbox yesterday... an orange owl!!!! My fantastic friend S. sent this to me.  Alex went crazy saying "owl, owl, OWL!" when he saw it.  He also wanted to give it hugs and kisses, so funny.   
The best part, it is a candle holder and looks awesome when it is lit!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mini Frittatas

I am in a MOMS Club and I hosted the members breakfast this morning.  The past few days were spent getting the house whipped into shape and party ready.
I was paging through the Williams Sonoma catalog last week and saw a frittata recipe, but of course you need their special pan for their recipe so I hit the internet.  

I altered her recipe to use sausage and spinach instead of ham.  They are the perfect size.  I made mini muffin size for the spinach and regular muffin size for the spinach and sausage. Yes I am that person that labels her food.  What can I say, I love labels :)

I would definitely make these again.  You can even customize them with different toppings for different people.  When I did a trial run of the recipe for my husband I added tomato and tiny fresh mozzarella balls to the spinach ones and they were delicious!

Recipe- Mini Frittatas- adapted from Giada makes 12 regular muffins and 12 mini muffins

12 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
pinch salt and black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or any other herb)
1/4 cup minced onion cooked until soft
1/4 cup minced pepper cooked until soft
1/2 cup chopped and cooked spinach ( i cooked it in olive oil and garlic)
1cup italian sausage cooked
spray oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Beat eggs, milk, parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper, onion, pepper, and basil together.  Spray Muffin tins with cooking oil.  Pour into muffin cups 3/4 full.  Add spinach and sausage into the cups.  Make sure sausage is crumbled and spinach is separated. Bake 8-12 minutes until the center is set and the frittata has puffed up.  Use a small spatula to loosen the frittatas from the muffin tins.  Serve hot. 

Experiment with your favorite toppings.  Start with the basic egg mixture that you pour into the tins and then go crazy!!! There are endless possibilities, and they are delicious! Note: the sausage worked better in the regular muffin tins.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Orange Pack and Play

Happy Orange Friday!!! The orange knows no limits in the house, even Peanut Butter's pack and play is orange.  I loved using it when he was a tiny baby, it really made my life easier.  It has a changing table and a bassinet insert to use with tiny babies.  It was my little baby station downstairs. But today I am taking it down.  Sadly, we don't really use it regularly anymore, unless you count throwing a bunch of toys and other crap in it when we clean up.  Now that this is gone I have a huge mess in my living room! It might make a reappearance, I may realize I was using it more than I think...

Thursday, September 9, 2010


This Labor Day weekend we had ribs. I never cooked ribs until this summer, I am intimidated by cooking meat with bones in it.  After I conquered my fears, it was so easy I felt silly.  I have made them 4 times this summer!  The one time I added too much chipotle powder and they were very SPICY!!
I used Alton Brown's cooking method of cooking them in an aluminum foil pouch in the oven and then sticking them on the grill.  But I came up with my own spice mix and liquid.  His sounded good but I wanted to use things I already had in the house.  These ribs are perfect, very juicy and fall off the bone tender.

I wanted to take more pictures, but we were having too much fun eating them!

Ribs- recipe inspired by Alton Brown- serves 2 people

slab of baby back ribs
4 T Montreal grill seasoning 
2 T Chipotle pepper (omit if you don't want them spicy)
1/3 c beer (or OJ)
1/2 c your favorite BBQ sauce plus 2 T

Lay out a large piece of aluminum foil large enough to make a pouch for the ribs.  Rinse ribs and pat dry.  Lay in the center of the foil and apply seasonings to both sides. Fold up the pouch so the skinny ends are able to be undone to pour the liquid in before it goes in the oven.  Put pouch on a baking sheet  Let sit in the refrigerator overnight or for 5 hours.  

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Open one side of pouch and pour in beer mixed with 2 T of BBQ sauce.  Close the pouch.  Let ribs cook in the oven for 2 and 1/2 hours.  

Cut ribs in 3-4 rib segments.  Take 2-4 T of the liquid in the pouch and add it to your 1/2 C of BBQ sauce.  Preheat grill.  Spread BBQ sauce on one side of the ribs and place on the grill.  Spread sauce on the back side of the ribs while the front side is cooing.  Cook on each side for 3 minutes and spread sauce on each side 2 times.  Grab some cloth napkins and dig in!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Drawstring Backpack

Peanut Butter is starting a PlayDays program this fall.  He is going to "school" 1 day a week for 3 hours of playtime with other kids.  I wanted to make him a backpack to hold his diapers, a change of clothes and his artwork when we leave.
I saw this backpack from khaki pants tutorial over at Noodlehead back in February and tagged it because it is such a cute idea!!  Sadly my husband didn't have any khaki pants that he was ready to part with so I used fabric instead.  But next spring closet cleaning, it is on!

The bag is so big on him!!
I made one change to my backpack, a large front pocket.  I wanted a large, easy access pocket for Peanut Butter's sippy cup and snack cup.
The lining is orange :)
I used plain expresso for the back of the bag.
The orange cording I got from another drawstring backpack that was $1 at JoAnns.
I had to use owl fabric.  Peanut Butter says "owl" every time he looks at the bag. Love him!!

Follow this tutorial over at Noodlehead to make your own.  It is so easy!

Here is the modification I made for my bag:
Instead of khaki pants for the front outside of the bag, I have 2 pieces of fabric sewn together.  The circle fabric is 10X15 inches and the orange fabric (for the inside of the pocket) is 8X15 inches.  The velcro was placed according to where it was on the pocket piece.
This is the front of the pocket.  It is 10X15 inches.  I used double sided interfacing to fuse the liner to the outside. and edged it with some 1/2 inch bias tape that I made.
The velcro is sewn to the inside pocket fabric only.
Here is the front of the bag before I sewed the back piece to it. 
Instead of khaki pants, I used espresso fabric for the back.

Friday, September 3, 2010

orange sippy cup

Even Peanut Butter gets in on the orange!
I snapped this pic at the Philly Zoo last Friday.
We had a fantastic time watching the mom and baby giraffe!
Happy Orange Friday!!

TBM Panini

I am going to wrap up tomato week with my favorite panini: tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella.  There is a chain restaurant near us, Cosi, that makes one on their flat bread and it has a sun-dried tomato spread that I am addicted to.  It adds more tomato flavor into the panini, and more tomato is always a good thing.
I love how the bread just gets a little toasty and the cheese just starts to melt and the tomatoes get warm.  The tomatoes are perfect right now for this panini.
I like to order it like this: bread, sun-dried tomato spread, fresh mozzarealla, basil, good olive oil, tomato with seasoned with salt and pepper, and then topped with bread.

Rubbing the outside of the bread, top and bottom with cheap olive oil makes it extra tasty.
We have a panini pan, but if you don't have this or a panini maker, you could use a regular pan and a brick covered in aluminum foil to press the sandwich flat.

We left ours on the first side a little too long.  But that's ok,  I love the blackened parts.
Thanks so much for stopping by for tomato week.  I had a delicious time sharing all my favorite ways to eat tomatoes with you!!

Printable Recipe
TBM Panini- Recipe by me
panini bread
Fresh Mozzarella- 2 slices per panini
Tomato Sliced- 2-3 per panini
Fresh Basil- 3-4 leaves per panini
Sun-dried tomato spread (recipe follows)
2 T good olive oil per panini
4 T cheap olive oil per panini

1.  Preheat pan, on high, turn down the heat to medium wheh you put the panini on.
2.  Layer the panini as follows: bread, sun-dried tomato spread, fresh mozzarealla, basil, good olive oil, tomato with seasoned with salt and pepper, and then topped with bread.
3. Rub the outside of the panini with cheap olive oil.
4. Place in hot pan and press down the panini or place in your panini maker.  It only takes a few minutes per side so watch carefully.

Sun-dried tomato spread- I altered the recipe from

1 6 oz can tomato paste
1/4 c sun dried tomatoes
1/4 t salt
1 clove garlic
1 T fresh chopped basil
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 t sugar

in a food processor (or blender) blend tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, garlic, chopped basil.  Add extra olive oil if it is too thick.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Tomato with basil and garlic are a magical combination.  It is my preferred topping for pizza and even pasta. When I told my husband I was doing a tomato week, he was very excited about eating todays post.
He was so excited that he wanted to eat just this for dinner.  
So I obliged, and I had one happy husband.  
We had some left over and it is going to make a great topping for pasta this weekend. 
Tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil on fresh crusty toasted bread.  A perfect fresh appetizer to serve when you have guests; especially on labor day weekend :)

Printable Recipe
Bruschetta- Recipe by me
3 large tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1/2 bulb of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 tsp salt
sliced baguette

Combine tomatoes, garlic basil, salt and olive oil in a container.  Let sit at least 1/2 hour before serving.  Slice baguette, drizzle a little olive oil on top and toast under the broiler.  Every broiler is different so watch the bread very carefully, mine toasted in 7 minutes.
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