Warmed millet, brussel sprout and carrot salad – with cranberries and walnuts

So this is the other recipe I made today which I found from Vegetarian Times magazine, in their October issue. The salad is super healthy, fiber-ous, filled with great vitamins, protein, and is really tasty. I added and changed a couple things around based on preference and what I had. I actually ended up doubling the recipe, my friend, who served as my sous chef, took home half to eat this week, too. Accompanied with the curried carrot soup, this is going to be a great meal. Filling but light. Looking forward to it. Again, this is vegan!

 

Millet Salad 

What You’ll Need – (for one batch)

3/4 lb of brussel sprouts

1/2 lb Carrots – I added carrots to the recipe, a nice autumn addition

olive oil

3/4 cup millet

2/3 cup chopped walnuts – you can toast them on top of your oven while the millet cooks

2/3 cup dried cranberries – you can chop or just leave them whole

1/3 cup parsley – chop it up (I added more than the original recipe)

2 Tbs balsamic vinegar – I added a little more, base it off taste

1 Tbs maple syrup – I used agave nectar instead

Juice from 1/2 a large lemon, add a little zest too

Directions-

Cut the brussel sprouts in 1/4′s. Cut up the carrots. Place both in a baking pan. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and some garlic. Mix it all up. Bake in 475 deg. oven. Depending on how much you are cooking and what kind of oven you have, cook for about 25 minutes. Check on them for a while, stir em around… I like cooking brussel sprouts until they are a little blackened and crunchy. The carrots should be soft. Mmm this alone is a tasty side dish to any meal.

While the veggies are cooking, put the millet in a frying pan, on medium, and let it cook for 6 minutes. Don’t add anything to the millet, let it brown, crackle a little. After it browns, add 2 cups of water – or veggie broth if you prefer. Let it boil, then turn down the heat, let it simmer, and then cover. Stir occasionally. Like quinoa, the millet will be ready when all of the water is absorbed.

 

In the meantime, chop up the parsley and toast the walnuts. You’re also going to make the dressing. In a dish, add olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, the balsamic vinegar and the agave nectar. Maybe a little pepper. Stir it up, and taste it. I like the combination of the three flavors… lemony, sweet, and vinger. It’s a really nice dressing.

Check on the brussel spouts. Take them out of the oven, and let settle. Check on the millet. Once all of the water is absorbed, the millet will be fluffy. Take it off the stove, put in a bowl, and let it cool down a little.

 

Now, fold the veggies into the millet. Then add the cranberries, walnuts, and parsley. Fold instead of stir, this will protect the softened vegetables.

 

Taste it! Maybe you like cranberries – add some more. Maybe you need more protein, add more walnuts. This meal was super inexpensive. Brussel sprouts are in season, cooked carrots are a popular fall dish, and most of the ingredients can be found in the large buckets at stores like Whole Foods – making sure you don’t waste or buy too much of anything. This is especially nice when living in a studio, where space is an issue. I love learning new recipes and making them my own. Like I mentioned in the last post, I think this will pair nicely with the curried carrot soup. I’m going to eat it warm, but it might also be nice cold. With the curried soup and the dressing on the millet, it would be interesting to try adding pan fried tofu to this. maybe cooked it in the lemon and agave nectar. Anyway, hope you try and enjoy it. Also, so nice to have lunch already made to fight your Monday blues. Enjoy!

 

chickpea curry with cranberry almond quinoa

While I wait impatiently on Election Day, I decided to prepare my favorite Indian dish – a spicy, savory chickpea tomato based curry, and sweet delicious quinoa with cranberries and almonds. Looks pretty tasty, right? It’s not only delicious, but it’s super cheap, and super easy.

Here’s what you’ll need -

For the curry -

can of chickpeas

can of chopped tomatoes – I like the fire roasted ones with garlic

a yellow onion

garlic

fresh ginger

a little olive oil – to cook the onions, garlic and ginger

turmeric – a tsp

cumin – a tsp

coriander – a tsp

cayenne pepper – to taste (I made this batch a little too spicy)

garam masala – on top, after it’s cooked

veggie broth – two cups, maybe three depending on how long you cook

For the quinoa -

two cups veggie broth

one cup quinoa

handful of cranberries – I prefer to unsweetened ones, but they are sometimes difficult to find

1/4 cup slivered almonds

cinnamon stick

couple bay leaves

Directions-

Give yourself about 30-45 minutes to cook. First start on the curry. Chop up the onion, garlic and grate the ginger. Add all of it to a pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Cook it up til the onions soften. About 10 minutes.

 

Next, and this is the tricky part, open up the cans of tomatoes and chickpeas. Pour em in. Add the veggie broth. Then add the turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Stir it up. Ha – I told you, this is a super simple and inexpensive meal. Initially the spices cost a bit, but they last forever.

 

Cover and stir occasionally. After reaching a boil, turn down the heat, and let it simmer for about 35 minutes. In about 20 mins, start the quinoa. Add the veggie broth, quinoa, cranberries, almonds, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves. Reach a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes – until the broth is gone, and the quinoa has a white rind around the grain.

 

A couple notes – I didn’t have cranberries this time, so I substituted currants instead. Turned out ok, but wasn’t as sweet. In fact I added a little Raw Stevia to balance out the cayenne pepper I overdid. I think I’m trippin over the election. In addition, I totally forgot to add the veggie broth to the curry. Fail. It dried up super quick, and the chickpeas weren’t as soft as they should’ve been – it also didn’t take a lot of time for the curry to cook. Kinda gross. So I added a little broth and let it simmer a little more. Much better. I’ve seriously made this dish half a dozen times, and today I screw it up.

Hmmm anything else I forgot? Don’t think so. This dish is served nicely with naan, if you aren’t stressin’ about carbs. It’s also nicely paired with sliced pears in cinnamon and honey… again, a nice cooling taste to add while eating this spice-rich meal. And oh yah – it’s vegan, and pretty healthy in it’s fat-carb-protein ratio! Enjoy!

hurricane cleaning

While I consider myself a Type-A clean freak, I too have clutter. Messy piles. And – shudder – hidden messes. Good thing Hurricane Sandy has come, and forced me to stay inside and clean!

Living in a tiny studio, I’m very fortunate to have two – that’s right – TWO closets. The one I worked on today is the storage/coat closet. I hold coats, my way-too-many-Christmas-decorations, cleaning supplies, cat food and litter, and everything else that is ugly, but needed, when living in a house.

Here are the before and after photos. Let’s be honest, my goal wasn’t to make it pretty. And I spent NO money in this process. But here are a few helpful pointers to use when cleaning out your closet.

before

after

First off, dump out all the crap. Seriously, dump it out. And then sweep out the dust. Dust is gross. Spiders and bugs like dust. And spiders and bugs are gross. When you dump it all out, check out what you have.

1. Empty box of sparkling water from Costco – RECYCLE AND GET IT OUT.

2.The empty bag of paper towels – throw it away, and remember to buy more.

3. Tools and jars and bottles and cleaning supplies that are all over the place. Think about how to put them all together.

4. A brand new litter box that your crazy cat, Olive, never used.

4. Boxes and more boxes.

DUMP IT OUT!

it’s like showing strangers my dirty laundry

Now. Check out what you have. What I realized quick was that I wanted to build another shelf – that was reachable without a stool – to hold my cleaning and laundry supplies. I found the extra shelf I never used when building my Ikea cooking block, and rested it on top of the bar. Consolidated all of my supplies up there. No mess now on the ground.

Please. Here is a recommendation from someone who hates clutter and keeping crap for no reason. There IS a reason to keep the box from a Kitchen Aid. Or the box from your drill. Moving is a b*tch, and if you keep the boxes that hold things other boxes can’t, it will make moving a heck of a lot easier. Said boxes replaced the litter box, and are now on top.

I then cleaned and gave away the litter boxes. Consolidated all of my grocery bags and recycled bags into one, and hung it in the back corner. No one needs that many bags until you need that many bags. So put em all together, and keep the clutter out.

Think about the things you use each week. Maybe your drill. Tools. The broom. Make them available, so that you don’t have to rip everything apart to find them when you need them.

And yes! By organizing all your unwanted but necessary crap, you WILL realize you actually have not one but THREE umbrellas, and therefore need to no longer purchase them EVERY time it rains.

Cheers to that. And cheers to Hurricane Sandy. Well, not really, but you get my point.

happy halloween, y’all!

I love Halloween. Working as an office manager, I get the privilege of decorating our office… and you better believe I’m taking that opportunity. At some point I’ll blog about the space and how I’ve designed it. Until then, check out the start to decorating for our Halloween party next week. All items were purchased at either Amazon.com or Party City – all were on sale. Huge recommendation – before you EVER buy something online, Google coupons for that store. I searched for discounts for Party City and found a $30 off if you spend $100 – Plus free shipping. Discounts are out there, you just need to take a moment and look.

I love a great center piece. I  love bringing basic pieces together to create a nice, final display. Here I bought I basic black netted cloth, a couple paper lanterns, cob webs (most important), gourds,and a paper, sparkly candle piece. It’s a little cheesy – but it’s Halloween, and it’s fun. Add a few sparkly, black leaves… perfection. One tip on cob webs. A little goes a long way. The best cob webs are the spread out ones… fine strands, super creepy.

Normally, I prefer making crafts, getting creative… but let’s be honest, some years there is just no time. Instead, get creative with the cheaper Halloween decorations – no need for the $150 Vampire – and see what you can do.

I’ll soon be building a photo booth stage, layout the makings of a good pumpkin carving station, a couple recipes for amazing cider, and everything else that makes a Halloween party amazing.

succulents make a home go boom

I love succulents. They are green. They are cute. They are tiny. Most importantly, they are hard to kill. Scratch that. I’ve killed a couple. But if you plant them correctly, they can last decades.

There are several places you can buy succulents. Ace Hardware has great ones. You can buy them at the nearby plant store. In DC, there is a plant shop on 14th and R st (ish) that sells lovely succulents in great planters. Or, you can buy them in bulk online, where they ship the rooted plants to you in brown paper bags.

I’ve done all of these options. And pretty much, they all work.

If you are going to plant your own succulents, you’ll need little planters with holes at the bottom. Make sure you have a plate to hold the excess water underneath. Here’s why. Succulents are cacti – but cacti aren’t succulents. While succulents require a tad more water, they’re still desert plants. They don’t need a lot. They live in dry climates, and need to be able to release the water around them. Also, the desert is full of rocks. So it’s important that you also have rocks in your planters. You can also buy nutrient-rich cactus soil. By the way, succulents are cheap! The fancy planters and expensive plant shops are what make them costly. You can buy small plastic planters at Ace Hardware for $4. A bag of soil for $9. If you can’t find rocks – perhaps you live in the city – you can buy them in the decorating section at places like Target.

In terms of watering – you can water just a little bit every two weeks. Or month. It depends on how much sun they get. It depends on the heat. Use your judgement. If you question yourself, know that in this case, less is more.

Check out some of the succulents I’ve planted.. hope it inspires you to add green to your life.

i want fancy towels

I want Anthropologie towels. But I’m on a Target-towel budget. I think most people should. Anthro towels are fabulous. Lush, big, pretty colors. But damn. They are expensive. $48 a towel. $8 for a washcloth. Sometimes more. I would rather buy sweaters and boots and towels and Whole Foods groceries than spend over $100 for a set of towels.

But I love that look. Please check it out to understand the inspiration I’m working with.

Anyway, you can buy nice towels, a couple nicer towels, and a couple basic towels. Mix n match and  you’ll have a lovely set. Plus, until you stop using the face wash that bleaches towels (ahem, no comment), it’s probably not worth spending too much.

See what I’ve purchased. A set of basic white, Taget Home towels, a set of yellow and white floral towels from Target – they were $12 each, and then I bought a washcloth from Anthropologie for, yup the actual price, $8. For everything – four towels, two hand towels, a fancy washcloth, and a few basic white washcloths, I spent under $60. That would be the same price for just two towels at Anthropologie.. I will say I like the outcome.

Tell me what you think!

paint a door

I get what it means to live in an old, mouse-friendly, a little bit run down, row house. I’ve lived in one, and I can appreciate looking for ways to make them feeling fresh, clean, and modern.

I used to live in a group house. There, I tried different things to make the house a little warmer, and homey. One  idea I had was to paint the yucky-poo colored door a fun, vibrant color that would spunk up the front space. Obviously turquoise was the answer.

** Someone told me after I painted the door that they were told a freshly painted door made burglars more inclined to rob you… I don’t think this is the case. And if so, I would’ve have offered them one of the mice **

before

Anyway, what you’ll need includes the following -

1. paint brushes – I would buy a basic brush  for the small corners and sides and also one of these guys -

It’s kind of one of the best things ever invented, and costs like $4 at Home Depot. There’s a paint brush pad on the other side. This tool makes painting edges, ceilings, and everything else a lot easier… and I like that it makes the paint go on smoother, especially nice when painting a door.

You’re also going to need sandpaper, take your pick at what kind. Maybe a medium thickness. And last but not least…paint!

Possibly because my weekends as a child included visits to Home Depot after soccer games, I would again recommend going to Home Depot to buy paint. Behr paint is effective, cheap, and comes in great colors. Because I was painting a front door, I bought the outdoor paint. I also just bought the primer/paint combo as there was no need for additional layers. Also, all I needed for the front and back of the door was one quart… that included two coats, and I had some leftover. Total for paint, brushes and sandpaper ~ $30.

Directions -

  1. First, wash the door. Simple enough.
  2. Use sandpaper to rub down the old nasty paint or wood or whatever you are painting on. This will clean up and smooth the door, and allow the raw texture to grab on to the paint a bit easier.
  3. Paint a coat – Put the paint in an old piece of Tupperware (recycle – no need to buy one of those paint trays). When painting, try to follow the grain of the wood. Also, paint kind of a “X” formation – this will make sure that paint sticks in every little crevice. Ew, that’s a gross word.
  4. Clean up any paint you spill – don’t worry, it will happen. Also, clean your brushes with soap and warm water – this will allow you to use them in the future. Win.
  5. Watch some TV – and LET THE PAINT DRY. If you lack patience like I occasionally do, this may be tricky. I recommend watching Dexter.
  6. Next day – paint another coat! I think after that dries, you should be good to go. Keep the door clean, and this should last you quite a few years.

Check out the final product:

After

i heart bottles.

Bottles and vessels. Different textures, colors, and heights. I love the eclectic, vintage yet modern feel they bring to a space. In my current place, I help use them as a room divider. My bed is behind the blue dresser in the last photo. (Ikea dresser, Anthropologie knobs.) What I also love, is that you can find bottles for 4 bucks. Or 20 bucks. It doesn’t have to be a pricey investment to add spunk to your home. Flea markets, garage sales, your favorite beer or wine bottle, West Elm, apothecary stores, even the grocery store where you can buy your favorite Mexican saint candle. Check out some of these images – let me know what you think!

ginger carrot soup with chili-lime pepitas

I’m back. And I’m still eating! I’ve made this recipe a couple times and love it! Especially with cold weather approaching, this is a tasty, healthy, vegetarian, simple soup that’s super flavorful – and cheap! It’s also a festive color for fall. Ha! Possibly not most important, but a nice touch for holiday events and dinners.

What You’ll Need-

  1. 3 cups veggie broth
  2. 1 cup orange juice
  3. couple cups of carrot
  4. couple cups of potatoes OR cauliflower (if you’re goin low-carb)
  5. onion
  6. ginger
  7. garlic
  8. little butter or olive oil (up to you)
  9. 1/2 cup milk, rice milk, 1/2 and 1/2 – this will determine if you want to soup to be vegan or not
  10. turmeric
  11. white pepper (trust me – this adds a nice taste that is different from black pepper)
  12. nutmeg
  13. two cups of pumpkin seeds or pepitas – same thing, different name
  14. chili powder
  15. lime juice
  16. salt

In  a pot, melt the butter, cook the onions, ginger and garlic. dice up the potatoes/cauliflowers and carrots, add them to the pot. Add the veggie broth and OJ, turmeric and a little white pepper. Let it boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. Next, pour half the soup into a blender, add half the milk/non-dairy product and blend. Then add the rest of the soup and milk. Blend and puree to the texture you appreciate. Put back in the pot, add more white pepper, nutmeg and salt – to taste.

At some point while the soup is cooking – toast up the pumpkin seeds in a frying pan, add some salt, lime juice and chili powder.

Serve the soup hot, with the toasted (and quite tasty) pepitas on top. Enjoy!

I served the soup at a dinner party a few months ago. Served it with crispy, garlicky brussel sprouts, cold gazpacho, avocado, and most important – white wine!

setting up a living room

Besides having a fabulous closet (one that I will have someday), I think that a living room can be your most important space in a home — ha, particularly in a studio. In a lot of small spaces, it’s the first place people see, it’s where you spend most of your time, and it tends to even be your dining room.

For this space, I wanted to keep it basic, clean, home-y, and personal. Especially because I live by myself.

Let’s start with the photos;

Because the photos, frames, and albums I am decorating with are all different weights, sizes, and textures, I needed to use a couple different techniques. For the heavier items (the larger frames), I drilled a screw into the wall. Again, because I have cement walls, I needed to find the appropriate screws and of course, drill bit. Check out your local Ace Hardware.

side note: Ace’s are privately owned for the most part — so you can feel ok supporting them, or another local hardware store.

For the smaller frames and the painting, I used these velcro hanging strips from Ace, the box was like $5 for a set of six. They hold up to 12lbs (so it says, though I’m not sure I would trust more than 5lbs). Clean the wall and the back of the frame, stick two of the velcro strips to one another, and hang. Super simple, and they’ll come off the wall without leaving a residue. For the albums, I used the picture hanging screws. Those are actually quite tough – can hold 50lbs or more.

Contrary to the photo, the frames aren’t crooked, I’m just lousy at taking a straight picture.

From left to right, top to bottom: Dodger stadium, and old frame given from family, a record album frame, purchased at Urban Outfitters for $10, silver frame is from Target ($9) and a photo of my great great aunt and uncle, the purple frame is from World Market (a gift) and my grandparent’s wedding photo, the long black frame is from Amazon (only $5) and an awesome quote from First Lady, Michelle Obama. The green frame is way old as well, and from Urban Outfitters, as is the second album frame. And lastly the gold frame and photo on the right are from Eastern Market’s flea market in DC ($50 total).

The frames aren’t a final product. I want to add more, move things around, take things off, etc. But that comes with time, my mood, and what cool think I “must buy” next at the flea market. Right now, I love the colors, textures, very different images. Again, it’s personal.

Sidenote #2- If you live in DC, definitely check out the Eastern Market flea market. They have a lot of amazing stuff, and for the most part, it’s all quite unique, making your space extra special.

Alright, back to the living space. Here’s the final product, at least for this wall. My couch is from Macy’s. A few years ago I purchased it new for $600. A bit pricey, but I’ll be honest, buying your first new piece of furniture is unbelievably liberating. The little coffee table was $15 (originally $30 – talk ‘em down!) at the Eastern Market flea market. The green planter is from Antropologie for $12, the olive green vase from West Elm for $18. The coasters were handmade by children in southern Cambodia, about an hour south of Phnom Penh. The TV tray on the right was $9 from Target. And lastly the pillows – the cream one is from Target, about $20, and the little one from a market in New York, I think I bought it for $5.

Let me know what you think

-Summer