Monday, November 21, 2011

Domestic Goddess Dress Up: Quick (and AMAZING) Thanksgiving Appetizer

As I was getting my Thanksgiving cooking done today (I've got the easy stuff this year, the make-ahead kind) I thought "I should do a little last-minute tutorial for Thanksgiving." And so I've decided to share one of my favorite recipes ever. And I mean EVER. I could eat it all day. But, since cranberries are only available this time of year, it is extra special. So, without further ado, here is the recipe, and pictures of course. 

Cranberry Salsa Appetizer

1-12 oz. bag cranberries
1/4 C. cilantro
1/4 C. green onions
1/2 C. sugar
2 small (or 1 large) Jalapeno
2 Tbs. fresh ginger - I just do 2 inches, depending on how thick the ginger is.
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2-8 oz. bricks cream cheese


This recipe can be very quick, or very time consuming, depending on how you do it. I suggest you do it the quick way (blender or processor) or you can do it by hand... just mince everything. 

Put the cranberries (rinsed) in a blender or food processor. Put in enough water to lift the berries off the blades.

Blend until pieces are very small (this is salsa, and I usually like bigger chunks of tomato and all that. But this salsa is cranberry, and a big ol' chunk of cranberry isn't the best surprise)

Pour into a strainer and let drain while preparing the rest. Like how it's dripping onto my counter? :)

Tip: make cutting up ginger lots easier by "scratching" off the skin with the back of your knife. It's easier and saves more of the ginger than cutting the skin off. 

Put the remaining ingredients (EXCEPT cream cheese and crackers) in the blender. 


Mix in (or put in the blender and blend together) the cranberries.

Cover and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours (though it will be tempting to just eat it right then). And this picture doesn't look too fabulous, but it's actually quite festive with the red cranberries and green cilantro pieces.

Place cream cheese blocks onto serving plate and spoon cranberry salsa over the top, covering all the cream cheese. Serve with crackers. 

I'll update with serving pictures once I serve it. :)

Another tip: I always cut the jalapenos last so I can hurry and get the capsaicin off my fingers. And here is the best way to do this:

Take kosher salt and water and scrub scrub scrub! For about 3-4 minutes. Make sure you get around and under your fingernails. *Happy bonus* this is also a great way to get all the unwanted extra nail polish around your nails off and it makes your hands super duper soft. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Domestic Goddess Dress Up: How to Distress, Bleach, Dye, and Basically Transform Any Pair of Jeans

This tutorial may have the most pictures of any tutorial yet. 
It all started with a pair of jeans. 
This pair, to be exact.

I recently inherited this pair of maternity jeans, as we all do when we're expecting, from a dear sister-in-law. Now, maternity clothes are a bit more finicky than other clothes. Every woman is shaped differently, and when we're pregnant those differences are magnified. But, these jeans actually fit quite nicely. Hooray! 
The only problem became my insufferable picky-ness. When it comes to the stain of a jean, I'm sensitive. Just ask the hubbs. 

I don't do light stains.

White jeans, sure.
Colored jeans, awesome!
Medium stains, no problem.
Dark stains, love 'em.
But a light wash, nu-uh. 

And these jeans were just a little light, and a little too blue, for my liking. 

So I took matters into my own hands.

Between these three colors of dye, I made me a good lookin' pair of jeans. (Though I could've done with just two. You'll see.)

So, here are directions for dying any fabric with Rit dyes, stovetop method.

Disolve your dye in two cups of hot water.
Fill a pot with enough hot water to allow your fabric to move around freely. Put on the burner on high heat.

For cotton fabrics, add a cup of salt to help the dye stain darker.

Add the dye to your pot.

Wet your jeans with hot water.

Carefully place your jeans into your dye. You want to do this slowly so air doesn't get trapped, resulting in having to get the air out, which will undoubtedly result in a bubble splashing dye all over. P.S. wearing an old apron, painting clothes, or a garbage bag would be well worth your time. 

Let your jeans "marinade" in the dye for about 40 minutes for full color. You'll want to reposition your jeans often so the jeans get an even dye (you don't want one part of your jeans to be lighter than the others), you'll also want to stir them around (not just push them down into the dye) so the dye gets everywhere and you don't end up with tie-dye looking jeans.

When you're done, transfer jeans into a bowl.

Rinse your jeans in hot water, gradually getting cooler as you rinse. 

 Once the water is cool enough and the dye is faded enough, you can use your hands to rinse and ring out. Your fingers will get lightly dyed, but it only lasts through 3 or 4 hand washes. You'll want to rinse until the water runs clear. Throw those puppies into the dryer and wait for the results!

And voila! The color you want! Now, I must tell you, it took me three dyeing sessions to get the color I wanted. I started with just plain navy blue, but that ended up being just that-plain blue. It was like cobalt 60's homemade jeans. Nope nope nope. So then I got smart and went onto and found their wonderful color combo grid and used a mix of teal and black for my next dye, but it was still too blue from my first dyeing, so then I added a bunch more black to the teal/black dye combo and that did the trick. (There's some wisdom to keeping your dye until you're sure you won't have to dye again.)

How to Distress Your Jeans

I thought I would distress my jeans, but for a few reasons I ended up leaving them be. But, if you would like to go that route, I strongly suggest practicing different techniques on a pair of scrap jeans so you get an idea of what you want to do. This is actually quite fun.

Here are a few things I tried out.
(I must note, I didn't rip that big ol' hole in these jeans, that's just how hard the hubbs is on his clothing, not joking.)

Items listed from left to right:
Sandpaper, block of wood, old steak knife, pepper de-seeder, fine cheese grater, gloves (if you're going to be using a lot of bleach, I would use these), measuring cup, bleach and foam brush.
Other things you can use: Power tools, pumice stone, anything you can think of that might destroy cloth. *There's a difference between distressing and destroying jeans. If you want to destroy some jeans, just take everything I've done to a major level and you should get the results you want. 

The block of wood is quite important. My wood is actually a piece broken off of my son's toy train which I will repair... soon. 

Place your wood inside your jeans in the direction you want your distress lines.

Rub your knife along the edge of the block until you get the amount of wear you want.

Here's what the knife wear looks like (moderate amount of wear).

Here's the same method using sandpaper.

It wears less dramatically along the edge of the wood but makes a hole fairly quickly if you go over the edge of the wood block.

Next is the "whiskers" look.

Fold your jeans into a "fan" pattern where you want your whiskers.

Keep holding the jeans folded (I didn't because I need a hand to take the picture). Dip your brush in bleach and make sure you press ALL excess out so you don't get blotchy lines. Run your brush over the tops of the folded jean.
Here is the result of bleached whiskers. You can make it more dramatic by letting it sit longer. *Note: dyed jeans will react more dramatically and quickly to bleach because of the dark color. To deactivate the bleach, douse with white vinegar. 

Here I used he same "fan" fold whisker method, but I used sandpaper instead of bleach. These makes the lines much smaller and subtle. I have found the easiest way to get lines close together is to fan and bleach or sandpaper, then release the fan and fold between those lines you just made and bleach or sandpaper those lines. (So, the first third and fifth lines were made first, then I went in-between and did the second and fourth lines, if that makes it any easier to understand...) If you try to fold lines close together, you'll end up really frustrated. 

Next up: General Fading

I tried two different methods of large-area bleaching (if you want a faded look on the front of your jeans, like thighs and knees). 

This first way is the more cautious way (I always like cautious). First, mix bleach and water 1 to 1 and spread that all over the area you want to fade, tapering out on the edges. Then, take straight bleach and spread that in the middle of your bleaching area for a brighter bleach in the center, taper this off towards the edges. You can add more bleach if you've waited a while and want a stronger fade.
This takes a little more time, depending on your fabric. But I'd say it's definitely worth being careful.
The area that I bleached is the first lightened area from the bottom, on the left side of the jean.

This second way is probably obvious. Just straight bleach. You can still taper off the fading, as long as your fabric is thick and resilient. If you have stretchy fabric (like the jeans I dyed), it's really hard. Real denim will be the best option for all fading and distressing.
You can see the area I bleached is above the whiskers on the left side of the jean.

And, here are the jeans all done. The picture is yellow and since I had to set up the camera and use the picture-taker-timer, it's from a low angle, making me look more puffy that I actually am. Oh well. 

And Tedi, these belly pictures are just for you. As requested.

I feel really weird taking a "bathroom mirror" type picture. But, when you're the only one in the house, there aren't many options...

And there you go. All kinds of ways you can "new" your old jeans! For a lot more ideas, this is a great page. 

Go wild!

Christmas To Do's

Today I saw a "Christmas Bucket List" on Pinterest and that got me thinking "I want to make one". Mostly I needed to make one for two reasons:

 1. I finished all of my Christmas projects and shopping last month for the very reason of being able to enjoy the wonderfulness of the Christmas season, and I would forget all of the things I want to do if I didn't write them down.
2. The list I saw on Pinterest had some things I don't really want to do and doesn't have a few things I really do want to do. 

So, my very own Christmas To Do List was born. Go ahead and steal it if you'd like, or make your very own with the blank template! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Domestic Goddess Dress Up: Making Your Very Own Yogurt

Now, I've been wanting to do this for quite a while, but now I've actually done it. Yogurt.

I don't know how many of you are yogurt lovers, but I most definitely am. Give me a bucket of Brown Cow Maple Cream Top Yogurt and I will finish that thing in a day. DE-lish. (If you haven't tried it, you must.)
My only problem is, a bucket of that a day really takes a chunk out of my wallet, which is why I only allow myself to buy one and make it last for at least 2 days. But for a while I have wanted to make my own yogurt (I'm easing my way into cheese-making) and I tried it once on the stove, but that experiment came to a tragic end. Tragic meaning when I was done, I had wasted a quart of milk and there was no yogurt.

What I had decided that I needed (for many reasons) was an Excalibur dehydrator. One of the best in the biz. With temperature controls. Pretty snazzy stuff. And I had decided that I needed it for my birthday. The only problem is that I had spent all of my pennies on Brown Cow Cream Top Maple Yogurt and the like. :)

Anyway, long story short, I would have to wait for a while before I could get my precious dehydrator until *angels singing* my hubby brought one home. the sun had shone upon my yogurt-making dreams. I guess someone having a yard sale decided that they didn't want their fabulous Excalibur dehydrator, but more than that, they didn't want to SO MUCH that they put it in on the "free" table! Can you believe that?! I sure can't.

So, my husband, knowing that I wanted a dehydrator for a VERY BIG and EXCITING project that I have coming up (don't worry, I'll post it, but it's about two and a half months down the road) and knowing that he didn't want me to use his precious dehydrator, picked it up for me. Isn't he the sweetest thing? Actually, when I saw it on our counter and started hyperventilating he was confused, and after being notified that it's WAY better then his dehydrator, he is now trying to claim it...

And that's the story of the Excalibur dehydrator that started this yogurt-making endeavor. I don't know if was worth reading through to get to the actual tutorial. But, let's move ahead.

Yogurt making is amazingly easy and takes about 10 minutes of actual labor, as long as you follow the instructions. You can use a lot of different methods. As you know, I went the dehydrator route, but some people just fill coolers with a lot of bottles of warm water, or you can go stovetop, or buy a yogurt maker. In my mind, buying a dehydrator makes a lot more sense than a yogurt maker, because you can use it for hundreds of other things as well. Anyway, however you decide to do it, the recipe and instructions stay the same.

So, here it is:

Ingredients and Supplies:

1 quart milk (any type). Though if you want it to be cream top yogurt, it cannot be homogenized.

1/4 cup dry milk powder, for a thicker product (optional)

1 Tbs. thickener, such as carrageenan, pectic, or gelatin (optional; use as a substitute for or in addition to dry milk power)

1 packet yogurt starter or 2 Tbs. yogurt with live cultures

Large pot


Containers with lids

Easy. You really only need milk and plain yogurt (I did use milk powder as a thickener because that's how I like it)

If you want to flavor your yogurt you'll want those things handy. Maple syrup is my very favorite, honey is another delicious one. You can add chocolate syrup or an extract like lemon, almond, or vanilla (1 tsp.), your options are really endless. Just remember yogurt isn't inherently sweet and if you want it to be sweet, you'll have to add a sweetener, though many flavorings are sweet in themselves. You can also do "fruit on the bottom" style and put jam, peanut butter, or chocolate syrup in your cups, add the milk-yogurt mixture and then ferment as normal. If you're flavoring with any type of fresh, canned or dried fruit you will have to add that after the yogurt is made, as some fruits are acidic and will curdle the milk and prevent proper fermentation. I add all my flavorings after the yogurt is made, just to be sure I don't mess anything up and so I'll have a starter for my next batch of yogurt (your starter yogurt should always be plain). Starting out, I suggest you make your first batch plain, and then after that start experimenting with fun flavors.

*Note: The actual instructions that should be used with every fermenting method will be red. The instructions that are black are the ones I've added for the dehydrator method.

Take all of the trays out of your dehydrator.

Get your dehydrator to the right temperature (116). This picture is looking through my dehydrator door at the thermometer inside, and the resulting reflection of my camera and hands.

Combine the milk, milk powder (if desired) and thickener (if desired) and flavoring. Heat the mixture to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. I thought I had taken a picture of this step.... but I guess not.

Let the milk cool to 116 degrees. Add the starter (or yogurt); mix well.

Pour into containers and cover (I use ramekins with lids). Keep covered, at 116 degrees for at least 6 hours (mine takes 8-9 hours), or until set to the consistency of thick cream. This is where the dehydrator comes in.

Refrigerate and serve cold. This will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Domestic Goddess Dress Up: Pregnant Goddess Edition

I know, I know, the "Which Post Would You Like To See Next" poll is closed and the winner is clear. Meaning I SHOULD be posting my Baked Pumpkin Doughnut Tutorial right now. But I am just too excited and this can't wait. But I promise, as soon as I get my act together and buy some eggs, I will be making and posting the doughnut tutorial.

This post is actually TWO tutorials. That's right. Jackpot.
Last night I woke up at about 4 am (not out of the ordinary) with a brilliant idea. For about 6 or 7 years now I have been madly in love with Starbuck's Green Tea Frappuccinos with raspberry syrup. It's my guilty pleasure (because of the surprisingly high calories... if you add the whipping cream) and one of my favorite desserts. So, this morning I woke up thinking "why not make my own tea frappuccino... and why not make it Red Raspberry Leaf Tea?

If you are unfamiliar with red raspberry leaf tea, it is extremely good for women, especially pregnant women, and, being pregnant, I've been drinking it every day for quite a long time.

Now, I love tea, I'm a big tea fan. But, I haven't been creative and so I've been drinking my RRL tea the regular hot way every day. It's getting boring.

Lying in bed, I came up with my game plan. Then I got up and ready and went to work. It took all of about 20 minutes.

First, I needed some raspberry syrup. Luckily for me, I had seen a tutorial recently on how to make various flavored syrups, so I whipped some up.

Tutorial #1: Raspberry Syrup


1 Cup Water
1 Cup Honey (the recipe called for sugar, but I have access to lots and lots of honey. Here's why, if you'd like to know. Plus, the whole idea of this endeavor is to keep a healthy body, so honey it was. You can use whatever you would like, the measurement stays the same)
3/4 Cup Raspberries (preferably fresh, I used some I had picked last sumer and frozen. And I used my whole bag, which was about 1 1/3 cups for more raspberry flavor with less sweet)

Combine the honey, water and raspberries in a small saucepan.

Heat the mixture over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the honey has dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, about 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove the berry solids.

Side note, muslin is too fine... as this picture below clearly shows. You won't get anywhere.

Let cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Now how easy is that?

So, I had my syrup, now I just needed to make the Frappuccino. Which brings us to...

Tutorial #2: Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Frappuccino

First, I had to grind my tea a bit. This is the way my tea comes (I buy in bulk, not in the regular baggies)

So, with my trusty Vitamix, I ground it down to a fairly fine powder. Like so.

Then, I just googled the recipe and followed it.

Since I love to simplify everything as much as possible, I have found the ULTIMATE way to prepare the frappuccino, sans leaf clumps and separating!

1. Brew your tea as normal
2. Pour tea into ice cube trays and freeze
3. Use these instead of regular ice cubes!

1/2 teaspoon RRL tea powder (This didn't seem like I'd get enough tea goodness, so I tripled it to 1 1/2 tsp. Next time I will do a bit more, I think 1 T. would be perfect) - You don't need this if following the updated version.
1/8 cup hot water (I don't know why they say 1/8 cup, it's just 2 tablespoons) - you don't need this either. See?! Simplify.
1/2 cup milk (raw milk... that post is coming up too, get excited)
1 tablespoon sugar (honey)
1 cup ice (I guess I added about 1 1/2 cups...) -UPDATED - Use your ice tea cubes.
a blender in which to throw all these things
2 T. Raspberry Syrup (I just eyeballed it because this wasn't in the recipe)


Start with the hot water and the green tea powder and wait for it to dissolve before pouring it into the blender. I also put the raspberry syrup in at this time, and I just put them into the blender and stirred them up a little bit, letting the tea steep for a few minutes.

Next, add the sugar (honey) and (raw) milk to the blender.

Mix it all together by running the blender for a few short bursts.

Add the ice and then blend until you get your preferred texture. You'll probably want to stop short of completely blending it so that you get a milkshake type feel to the frappuccino.

And behold: The wonderfully delicious concoction. It really is good, and I'm looking forward to many more months of drinking it! And thinking about it, the only things added to the regular way of drinking this tea are: raspberries, raw milk, and ice. I usually sweeten with honey anyway.

I've started adding frozen strawberries to my frappuccinos, I don't know why I didn't think of it right from the beginning. It's that much more delish.

Pregnant women around the world, you're welcome. :)