Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mini Quiches

To go along with our candle making, I made lunch for everyone.  We had fruit salsa with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips (a Pinterest recipe), cucumbers and carrots in Greek Yogurt Ranch (a Pinterest recipe), and mini quiches.   The mini quiches are my own creation based off of a basic quiche recipe.  Although this really has very little to do with my adventures, a friend asked for the recipe, so I figured I'd just add it to the blog.

Mini Broccoli Ham and Cheese Quiches
You will need...
Two refrigerated pie crusts
1/2 c chopped onion
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c shredded cheese
1/4 lb. ham, chopped
8 oz. package frozen broccoli, thawed
1/2 c milk

1. Preheat oven to 425

2. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

3. Roll out your pie crusts. Using a large cup or glass, cut out circles from the pie crust.  You may need to pile your dough back up and roll it flat again to get the most use out of it.

I only used one pie crust because I only needed 8 mini quiches, but I had enough filling to do a whole other batch.  From the two pie crusts, you should be able to make and fill about 16 mini quiches.

4. Press the pie crust circles into the muffin tin.  It's okay that they don't go all the way to the top.  The filling will fill in the rest.

5. In a skillet, saute your chopped onions until soft.

6. In a medium mixing bowl, combine your onions, ham, cheese, broccoli, milk, and eggs.

7. Pour the filling into the pie crusts in your muffin tin.

8. Bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes.  When they're done, the crust will be golden brown, and you will be able to stick a knife in and have it come out clean.

Here's the finished product!  They were a big hit, and exactly what we needed before we got to work making our candles.

Making Candles with Beth the Apothecary

My friend Beth is quite crafty, but it always manifests itself in unique ways.  My friend Laura decided yesterday that if Beth had lived in colonial times, she would have been the town apothecary.  Her husband thinks along similar lines, and declared Beth a witch.
She's cackling, in case you couldn't tell :)
What does this have to do with my adventures?  Well, one of Beth's many hobbies is candlemaking, and she generously agreed to teach us how to make candles.  

Beth, Laura, and Shaylen (and Baby Micah) came for lunch, and then we got down to business.
The supplies

This is an 11 pound piece of parafin wax.  Beth had to break it up into usable chunks.  Milo was enthralled.  Mac was nervous.

The wax
Here's the basic set-up: The large pot has boiling water in the bottle.  The smaller pot has the wax in it, and it sits inside the larger pot, making a double-boiler.  The wax melts, and then you can pour it out into your candle holder.

The thermometer is a necessary tool, since the wax has to get to 160 degrees before you can make your candles.
Amlung is adding a piece of scented wax to the boring parafin

 While Amlung worked, I took a break to hold baby Micah

Then Beth stole him from me.  Then, Micah and his mommy had to leave and miss out on all the fun.

Back to work!  The wax has melted at this point, and we are adding the first layer to our ice cream sundae candles

Laura did hers and Shaylen's, since Shaylen had to leave
The ice cream sundaes all have their first layer, and my jar is full

Laura added some yellow and orange crayons to the wax, so the next layer of our sundaes was orange
Laura's orange mason jar candle
My aunt Martha gave me this jar to use to hold money I was saving for my adventures.  I have a secret hiding spot for my money, so I figured I would use the jar IN one of my adventures, and it now has a delicious smelling candle in it.

This bucket is going to be for my citronella candle to put on my new potting bench.  Apparently they sell wick holders, but I thought Beth's use of chopsticks worked just as well.

To add some color for my citronella candle, we melted down some blue crayons.

And made a big old mess

My blue citronella candle
All of the in-progress candles

Beth wanted to make whipped topping for the ice cream sundae candles.  She tried just whipping the wax, but that wasn't the right answer. After a quick Google search, we learned the secret ingredient


More during...
AFTER! Isn't this amazing??

I learned that the candle wax sinks, so you have to poke holes while it's warm, and then do a second pour the next day to fill in the sinking.  This candle is ready for its second pour.

Melting back down some of the turquoise wax we saved from yesterday

All the finished candles (minus the ones Amlung took home yesterday).  Didn't we do a great job??

A Change of Plans

I made it 6 months without changing any of my 50 adventures, so I figured it was about time haha.  On the original list, the adventure is to make 10 Julia Child's recipes.  The whole point of the adventures is for me to do things I want to do to keep myself busy.  As I thought about this challenge, I realized it really didn't appeal to me at all.  I have no desire to learn French cooking, and I don't really have any connection to Julia Child's (I fell asleep halfway through Julie and Julia, although that's not saying much, since I pretty much fall asleep during every movie....and tv show...and football game).

Hence, I am changing my adventure.  Instead of cooking 10 Julia Child's recipes, I am going to cook 10 recipes from the Joy of Cooking cookbook that my dad got me for Christmas a few years ago.
This is pretty much the Bible of recipes.  It's over 1,000 pages of recipes for just about everything.

On Tuesday night, I got a craving for meatloaf.  Brief side note on meatloaf....when we were kids, my step-sister and I loved meatloaf.  My brothers, on the other hand, couldn't stand it.  One night, my mom gave the boys the option of eating spaghetti instead of meatloaf.  This was completely out of character, as we were expected to eat what we were served.  We all went into the kitchen to see what was up.  My mom pulled out a margarine tub full of spaghetti....and NIGHTCRAWLERS!  She had seen a news segment about soldiers somewhere eating food contaminated with worms, and she thought it would be a funny joke.  After that, Ben and Michael were perfectly happy to eat their meatloaf.  

Anyways, back to my craving.  I looked on-line for a good recipe and couldn't find anything that sounded right, so I figured I'd go the old-fashioned way and look in one of my physical cookbooks.  It's been a long time since I've cooked from a cookbook and not just off of Pinterest.  The Joy of Cooking had a good-looking meatloaf recipe, and an hour later, I had meatloaf.

Classic Meatloaf

All ingredients in the bowl

Making a mess

The recipe called for breadcrumbs or quick-cook oats.  I didn't have bread crumbs, so I tried the oatmeal...very good!

Into the oven....

....and out of the oven

My finished meal
  I wanted mashed potatoes to go with it, but figured I would try mashed cauliflower as a healthier alternative.  BIG MISTAKE! It was disgusting.  I followed the recipe from Pinterest, and seasoned it with salt and pepper and butter, just like mashed potatoes, but it was still pretty terrible.  I ate what was on my plate and dumped the rest in the garbage.

One recipe down, nine to go!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I built a potting bench!

Well, after a summer of slacking, I decided it was time to actually cross something off of my adventures list. So, last week, my friend Laura and I set out to build a furniture.

 Thanks to the amazing website of Ana White, I had hundreds of building plans to choose from.  I had planned on building a new craft table for my office, but I figured I should start with something a little simpler for my first project.

Last weekend, Robb and I spent the day antiquing in Statham. I came across a potting bench I really liked, but it was $125.  Lucky for me, Ana White had free plans for a potting bench, so my mind was made up.

A potting bench may seem like an odd choice for someone who has killed hundreds of dollars of gardens.  However, it is the perfect choice for someone who enjoys hosting several bonfires a year.  Want to know how I did it?  Check it the day-by-day activities below!

Day 1
This was probably the most important day...lumber buying day! (It's hard to build anything out of wood without lumber). I planned on heading to Lowe's to buy my wood since I had a coupon, but Lowe's lost because their saw was broken.  So I headed across the street to Home Depot.  After wandering aimlessly for a few minutes and loading some 2x4s onto my cart, I asked for assistance to find one of the pieces of wood I needed.  After a brief conversation about my project, I learned I needed pressure treated wood.  Thankfully, I had my own personal shopper.  He helped me load up all the wood I needed, and then made small talk for the next hour while he very precisely (thankfully!) cut my wood for me.  An hour and a half later, I was on my way out the door with a bunch of wood, some deck screws, and lots of other random things I didn't end up needing.

Day 2
Early Monday morning (much earlier than I'm used to getting up), I headed to my friend Laura's house.  Laura decided to build a dining room table with a little help from her husband, so her day was spent staining boards.  In fact, this is how all of Laura's days were spent.

While Laura stained, I got to work assembling my potting bench.  Ana White provides pretty easy steps to follow, so I just went along with her plans.  Six hours later (with a lunch break in the middle), I had a (mostly) level potting bench!

Assembling the shelves

The shelves are ready!  Time to put it all together

Almost finished

My top shelf was level...thank goodness!

Making sure it's all straight

Laura got to use the big saw, even though I ended up not using the pieces she cut for me

Laura trying not to cut off any fingers

The finished (but unstained) produce!
Day 3
We took Tuesday off to do some work at school, so Day 3 was kind of Day 4, depending on how you want to think about it.  Day 3 was my staining day.  I thought I was going to have to sand this whole thing, and I was really dreading that, but it turns out sanding pre-treated wood is poisonous (or something like that), so I was off the hook for that.

I had some tinted waterproof sealant leftover from when I stained my fence last year, so I was able to use that and not add anymore onto my Home Depot bill.  It was a long, messy process, but within a few hours the potting bench was all done!
Starting from the top

Almost done!
Day 4
I'm not really sure this counts as a day, but Day 4 was when the potting bench got delivered to my house!  I couldn't decide where exactly on my back deck I wanted it to go, so Day 4 was really spent with me moving it from one side of my deck to the other, and moving the pile of firewood so it was out of the way.  Finally, the firewood, the potting bench, and my fold-up camp chairs all found their spot.  I love the final result, and I can't wait to get some pots and decorations to put on it!
Trying it on the right

My potting bench has found its home!

Be on the lookout for an invitation to a Back to School Bonfire so everyone can come over and admire the potting bench that I BUILT!!