July 29, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites & Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

A few months ago, I was searching for a new recipe to make for book club. I usually stick with items that are chilled or room temperature so the food travels well. But, when I get the opportunity to host, I try to make something hot or more complicated to take advantage of being able to cook it right before people arrive. I found a recipe that involved bacon, and I was sold! The book club ladies raved.

This weekend included a visit with my parents. My mom commented about needing to come up with some appetizers to serve family friends that would also be visiting. Remembering the awesomeness that is this recipe (and really wanting to eat some), I shared the recipe with her. I forgot to get a picture before everyone attacked the plate, but you can tell they were great.

Bacon-wrapped potato bites with spicy sour cream sauce
They're so good I couldn't get a picture before they were almost all gone!

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites With Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

For the potatoes:

1 lb small or medium red potatoes (one-bite sized potatoes would be even better)
1 1/2 tsp chopped, fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
12-16 oz bacon

For the dipping sauce:

1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1 tsp hot sauce - or to taste (Any brand you like will do. I've used Tabasco and an Asian chili garlic sauce, and both were great.)
salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry the potatoes. Chop them into 1-inch pieces, keeping the chunks roughly the same size. Put the potatoes in a medium pot, cover them with cold water, and salt the water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil. Let it boil for about 3 to 4 minutes, until you can stick a fork into the potatoes without too much resistance. You want the potatoes to be almost, but not fully, cooked so they don't fall apart while being wrapped.
  4. Drain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Add the rosemary, olive oil, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Toss until the potatoes are evenly coated.
  5. Cut the bacon strips in half. Wrap each piece of potato in a half-strip of bacon, securing it with a toothpick.
  6. Put the potatoes on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. You may need to cook the potatoes in two batches so the baking sheet isn't too crowded.
  7. Bake the potatoes for 15 minutes, then flip each piece. Bake them for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the bacon is cooked through and crisp.
  8. Mix the sour cream and hot sauce in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Pile the potato bites on a plate and serve them alongside the dip
  10. Eat more than you probably should!  :)

July 28, 2012

Magnetic Nail Polish

One of my sisters (Hi, Allie!) is a nail polish addict. I'm pretty sure she re-polishes her nails multiple times a week. We've talked about trying out magnetic nail polish since it first came out, and we finally bought some during my last visit.

After spending way too much time trying to decide which colors to get, I just tossed one of each color in the basket. I've been searching for a nice silver, so that was the first polish I tried out.

The directions for using the magnetic polish are pretty simple:
  1. Apply one coat of the polish and let it dry.
  2. Apply a second coat.
  3. While the second coat is wet, hold the magnet (attached to the top of the bottle) above each nail for 10-15 seconds.
  4. Be amazed at your new nail art - I added this one.  :p
After following these directions for the first hand, I was disappointed with the results. The only nail that really looked like it was supposed to was my thumb (see below). I was hoping to have better results.

For my left hand, I decided to do the second coat of polish and use the magnet one finger at a time. This method really made a difference. I also noticed that the effect worked better if I used more polish, so don't skimp on it. I wish I had a picture of my left hand to show you so you could see the difference, but the polish was badly chipped by the time I took photos.

magnetic nail polish effect

July 23, 2012

The 101 Most Useful Websites

I happened upon this post, The 101 Most Useful Websites, and I feel like I know nothing about the internet! I went through this list and had only heard of or seen 12 out of the 101 listed. TWELVE! That's a measly 11.8% (yep - I needed to include the .8). That sucks.

After finding this list, I clicked around a bit and found a few sites that will definitely come in handy. Here are some of my new favs:
  1. screenr.com – record movies of your desktop and send them straight to YouTube
  2. polishmywriting.com – check your writing for spelling or grammatical errors (everyone should use this!)
  3. everytimezone.com – a less confusing view of the world time zones
  4. deadurl.com – helps you get get back to your bookmarked web pages that have been deleted
  5. woorank.com – research a website from the SEO perspective (can run one free report a week)
** Check out the full list, and let me know if I'm not alone with this 11.8%. Which sites do you think you'll use?

July 22, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

Another busy weekend done.

My husband had to work a lot this weekend (trial starts in a week), so I got to spend a ton of time with Mr. Baby.  :) I managed to be somewhat productive too. I found some felt I've been looking for (for two weeks) in my crafting stash, read a bit in The Handmade Marketplace, and worked on some stuff for the shop.

I finally finished stitching up the last few of my new QR Code pieces and started getting the backs finished. I originally planned to get them all finished and ready to list by the end of the weekend (so today), but I decided at the last minute to take some step-by-step photos of the process I go through to finished the backs of my hoop art so I could share it here. I always forget how much more time a photo shoot takes. Needless to say, I didn't get the backs finished. Boo.

I'm really excited to get these new pieces listed in the shop. Maybe I'll finally get them done and listed tomorrow.

Picture of QR Code ornaments
I swear, these are almost done!

July 19, 2012

Grilled Tri Tip with Tequila-Lime Marinade

This is seriously the best tri tip marinade ever. I think I might be a little addicted to it.

Grilled Tri Tip with Tequila-Lime Marinade

sliced grilled tri tip steak
I wish I had grilled it a little less.  :(
 2 2-lb. tri tips, trimmed

For the marinade:

1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup tequila
7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Easy, right?

Optional meat preparation (optional because some will tell you to leave the fat on the tips and that it is sacrilege to pierce meat before cooking): Trim the tri tips - remove as much fat as you can. Using thin, sharp knife, pierce the meat all over.

Place the meat in a resealable plastic bag, and add the marinade. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible, and seal it all up.

Let the meat marinate for at least 2 hours, but overnight is even better. Keep the meat refrigerated, and turn the bag occasionally. Make sure to take the meat out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you are ready to grill. You never want to grill cold meat. The outside will cook and the inside will be raw!

Prepare your BBQ and set the heat to medium-high. Remove the tri-tips from the marinade and grill it to your desired doneness (about 10 minutes per side for medium).

Transfer the meat to a plate or cutting board. Tent the meat with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. After the 10-minute rest, cut the tri tips diagonally, across the grain. Yum!  :)

Grilled tri tip with a foil tent cover
Grilled Tri Tip With Foil Tent
grilled tri tip after 10-minute rest
Grilled Tri Tip After 10-minutes Rest

* You can freeze this! Prepare your meat and cover it in the marinade in a resealable freezer bag. Having one of these in the freezer, ready to go, has saved my butt numerous times. You never know when you'll have last-minute dinner guests or you just don't have time to go to the grocery store.

July 15, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

I've been behind on posting because I have actually managed to keep myself super busy with productive stuff the past few days. Here are the highlights of my weekend:
  1. Celebrated my dog's 3rd birthday by taking her to the dog park to get some energy out and to the groomer to get a pedicure.
  2. Cleared a bunch of super tall weeds from our front yard. It no longer looks like it's been neglected for three years, and you can see the flowering plants and trees the weeds were blocking now.
  3. Finished stitching some more new QR code cross stitch pieces.
  4. Stretched all of the already stitched pieces I had laying around and started preparing them for finishing the backs.
  5. Finished putting together my new and improved light box. Hopefully this is the winning design.
  6. Took some product pictures using my new light box.
I still have a few more QR codes to stitch up (more color options). Then, I need to stretch, finished, and photograph the new product line. I'm hoping to get the new items in the shop this week. No more slacking!

Picture of a light box photography set up
The final version of my light box (I hope)!
QR code cross stitch pieces
Only 5 more to stitch up

July 12, 2012

Insalata Caprese - The Best Salad Ever!

My all-time favorite salad is the caprese. Maybe it's because I'm Italian. Maybe it's because it is so simple to make. No matter what the reason, this salad is unbelievably delicious.

Traditionally, caprese salads are made using thick slices of tomato, sliced rounds of fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top.

Picture of insalata caprese (caprese salad) from wikipedia
Insalata Caprese - from Wikipedia

The way I make my caprese is a little different. It all started when my husband (then fiance) was in law school and I was the only one working (at a craptastic job). I never let myself buy fresh mozzarella, but I really wanted to make a caprese salad. I had some cherry tomatoes, some fresh basil, and . . . string cheese! Yup. String cheese. I sliced those cheese sticks into rounds, cut the tomatoes in half, and chopped up the basil. I topped it all with a few drizzles of olive oil and balsamic and gave everything a quick toss. I was a happy camper. The texture of the cheese wasn't right, but the flavor was good. I'd like to say that this was a one time deal, but I have to confess that I think I made it this way until we got real jobs and I let myself buy the right ingredients.

I have been buying real, fresh mozzarella to make my caprese salads for a few years now, but I still use cherry tomatoes and make it like a tossed salad.

Pictue of the ingredients for a caprese salad - tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil

Insalata Caprese

10 oz cherry or grape tomatoes
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (measure after chopping)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Cut the tomatoes in half (lengthwise for grape tomatoes).

Caprese salad - tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegarIf you are using bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls), you can leave them whole or cut them in half or quarters. If you are using larger balls of fresh mozzarella, cut the ball down into pieces that are close to the same size as your tomatoes after slicing.

Tear, slice, or chop the basil.

Combine the chopped tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil in a bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything well.

You can eat the caprese right away, but it tastes better if you let it sit for a bit and let the flavors marry.

A Quick Tip For Chopping Basil

Step by step picture tutorial for how to make a basil chiffonade and how to chop basil
1: Remove the basil leaves from the stalks.

2: Stack the leaves, largest on the bottom. Work your way up to the smallest leaves. This step does not have to be neat and tidy. Just make sure you have the largest leaf on the bottom.

3: Roll the leaves up. Make sure the smaller leaves are covered as much as possible.

4: Start at one end of the basil roll. Make thin slices down the length of the roll.

5: You now have a bunch of basil ribbons, or a "chiffonade." Basil ribbons are beautiful, so you can stop here if you like.

6: To finish the chop, slice across the rolls of basil.

July 8, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

It's been busy at our house the last few days, but I've managed to squeeze in a little time to stitch here and there. I thought I had finished all of my samples for my newest QR Code items, but I may have to stitch up a new one in blue.

After spending hours trying to match up embroidery floss colors with the colors of the ribbon I plan to use, I discovered that I didn't have enough of the blue ribbon I found in my stash. It's a fairly common brand, but after visiting both craft stores in my area, I came up empty. Both stores carry the brand, but they had three other blues - one is too light, one is too dark, and the other is more of a teal instead of a blue.

I was super excited about having the perfect colors chosen, but now I have to figure something else out. In the meantime, the next step for these little guys is to get them stretched and framed in hoops and finish the backs. I'll post pictures when they're done.  :)

Picture of QR Code cross stitch pieces waiting to be stretched in hoops.
Some new QR Code cross stitch pieces

My blue ribbon saga of sadness:

Shades of blue ribbon
Still searching for the perfect blue ribbon

July 5, 2012

In Need of a 12-Step Program

I love lists. I'm a master list-maker. If there was a job where all you had to do was make lists and then list out all of the lists you made, I would be a shoe-in. I have lists that have sub-lists. I am addicted to color-coding my lists (which is a sickness itself). I have lists in multiple locations, some of which list the same things as other lists. When Apple added the Reminders app to iPhone, I was excited because I could have all of my lists with me wherever I go.

My top ten best (longest) lists are for:
  • General Crap To Do
  • Things To Buy (separated by store)
  • Things To Return
  • Gift Ideas
  • Crafts To Make
  • Reviews To Write (for Amazon)
  • Blog Posts To Write
  • Deep Cleaning List (separated out by frequency of cleaning - weekly/monthly/seasonally)
  • Home Improvements To Make (separated out by room/zone)
  • My ever-lengthening Shop To Do List.
Whew! Uh oh. I just realized that is another list of lists.  :-/

If only list-making resulted in actually getting stuff done. By the time I pull out my list(s), cross off the very minimal amount of items I have completed and re-evaluate what's left, I don't have time to actually do anything on the list! I think list-making might be the ultimate procrastination technique. You get to put off actually doing work by thinking about all the work you have to do. Maybe it's time for a mid-year resolution.

July 3, 2012

Chipotle-Style Cilantro-Lime Rice

More food! I know! I think I might be a little addicted to it.  :p

Anyway, yesterday I wrote about one of my "go to" sauces. Today, I'm letting you in on a little side dish secret. I love Chipotle. I could eat it every day. Every Day. BUT, it's really not all that great for you. About a year ago, I happened upon a woman that tries to make lighter versions of dishes, including some Chiptole recipes (Skinny Taste). I found her recipe for Chipotle's Cilantro-Lime Rice through Pinterest. After making her version, I decided that I could cut more salt and oil out of the recipe to make it even better for you, without sacrificing taste. Here's my version:

Chipotle's Cilantro-Lime Rice

3 - 3.5 cups cooked extra long grain  rice or basmati rice (about 1 cup pre-cooked)
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
3/4 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped cilantro, lime juice, oil, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the rice, and toss until completely mixed.


July 2, 2012

Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri

Every now and then I find a recipe that is a real hit with my husband. Chimichurri is one of those recipes.
Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri
 Chimichurri is a sauce that originated in Argentina, but it's also used extensively in many other countries. It is super simple to make and is packed with flavor. It's usually used to top grilled meat (any kind), but I've also heard of people using it to sauce other foods, like potatoes. One of my favorite ways to use it is as marinade for chicken.

There are a million different recipes for chimichurri, but this is the one I like to use:

Chimichurri Sauce

Makes enough to marinate 6-8 chicken breasts, with a little extra to use to top the chicken after grilling.

2 cups flat leaf Italian parsley - about one bunch - stems okay
4 large garlic cloves (if you use pre-minced garlic like I do, it's about 4 tsp total)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

You can spend lots of time chopping everything up and then mix it all together, but I prefer to toss it all in my food processor and let it whirl. I trim the very bottom off the parsley stalks and toss them in whole, stems and all. Don't be scared to do this. It saves so much time!

The mixture should be chunky.

If you are using your chimichurri as a marinade, make sure you put some aside first so you can use it to top the cooked meat.

The chimichurri can be made up to 5 days in advance and should be refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before serving.

Step by step photos of the making of chimichurri sauce.

July 1, 2012

5 Monthaversary!

It's time for another shop update! It's been five months since I opened my Etsy shop, and I have never been more excited about my craft. Each new sale gives me an awesome adrenaline rush, and I get inspired to create more.

This past month, I got my 50th sale (half of my 2012 goal!) and I got to add to my reach map (Florida, Washington, D.C., and Denmark). The shop does better and better each month, so I can't wait to see what I can accomplish in month six!

Seeing this map start to fill in is so awesome!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...