Sunday, November 27, 2011

Homemade Holidays Hiatus

Hi everyone! Sorry we've been slacking on new posts, we've just been so so busy!!

We're doing homemade holidays around here, with gifts all made by hand. Melanie's doing lots of baking and Amanda's making felt toys for her nieces and nephews.

We'll be back soon! Merry happy Chrismahannukwanzica! ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Try This Drink I Just Made!

I'm fighting the Mom Cold this week... the one that never fully goes away because I never get to be fully rested. Because of that, I'm swapping my coffee for tea and juice, and whenever I have tea, the kids want tea.

So, I turned on the kettle, let it come to a boil, pulled out a pack of decaf chocolate hazelnut tea and let it steep for 4 minutes. I poured about 1/2 cup of vanilla rice milk into the kids cups, then poured the tea into the milk. Both cups were too full for the kids, so I poured the extras into the mug and enjoyed it too! Hope you like it, the kids and I sure did!

-Melanie

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Harlots take on Embroidery

Melanie and I try to do a fun craft together every week. This week Mel had the brilliant idea to start embroidery. I have done embroidery before but not a lot and when I did do it I really loved it, so I was ready to take on the challenge too.

I am making a folksy looking fish for my kitchen. I love the old folk art look.

and Melanie is embroidering her prayer flags, it looks amazing!


We have learned many different stitching techniques and are having a blast! This has by far been one of my favorite projects that we have taken on. I cant wait to share them when they are done!
What kind of new crafts have you been learning?
-Amanda

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Keeping the House Tidy

Among the several positions the domestic artist holds, housekeeper is certainly a big one. Having things neat, dinner cooking, with dessert in the oven- and don't forget about kids being happy- helps every evening to go well.

One of my tidying tricks is to always grab something as I'm walking through a room. Going from the kitchen to our bedroom, I'll check on the laundry and see if anything needs to be transferred or put away. If I'm going upstairs, I'll grab anything kid related, since that's where their bedroom and playroom are.

Picking up little things all day makes the great pick up at the end of the day much more bearable. Some chores are considerably less daunting if you can do them bit by bit throughout the day.

Every day (sometimes twice) when the Roomba's charged, I run around the house (downstairs one day, upstairs the next), and get everything off the floor so Ruthie (that's our Roomba) can vacuum while I'm making lunch and getting the kids settled for naps and quiet time. I have the kids get the toys (we have a no [more like very few] toys outside of the playroom rule, so there's mostly just baby toys strewn about) and I do mostly everything else.

If there's kids clothes or shoes, I set them on the stairs to take up once I have a nice pile.

Before: Super messy kids area!!



After: Here's the stairs (with my 2 year old) and the playroom, after every container in the playroom had been emptied! It took us about thirty minutes to get everything completely picked up.



Right now, the only thing on the floor is the pile of laundry in my bedroom that I'm about to tackle... Which Ruthie just tried to eat. :)

Once you're able to find your cleaning groove, you'll be super pleased with the results!

-Melanie

Divine Chocolate Mint Black Bean Cake *Now with Hot Fudge Frosting*

This cake is amazing. Believe me, but still make it for yourself. I love cutting flour when I can, it makes my joints feel happier, and this has so much protein, fiber, and potassium in it because it has a whole pound of beans!

Preheat oven to 325*

Add the following ingredients to your food processor, as well as 1/4 cup mint and 1/4 cup dark chocolate pieces:

*1 1/2 cup of cooked beans, any kind/color
*5 large eggs
*2 tsp mint extract
*1/2 tsp salt
*6 tbsp unsalted butter OR coconut oil
*3/4 cup erythritol plus 1/2 tsp pure stevia extract OR 1/2 cup honey plus 1 tsp pure stevia extract
*1 tsp baking powder
*1/2 tsp baking soda
*1 tbsp water (leave out if you use honey)
*1/4 cup mint chips
*1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Blend till everything is very well mixed and the beans and chips are totally pulverized, pour into a cake pan lightly dusted with cocoa powder. There is no rising, so keep that in mind when you choose your pan.
 Mix in an additional 1/2 cup mint chips and 1/2 dark chocolate chips, then bake for 45 minutes, or until the center is solid and slightly beginning to crack, and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack.

I'm making the frosting tomorrow, to be used right before serving. Stay tuned!


**********************************************************************************

My super healthy and sugar free frosting recipe never comes out quite right, so I decided to give a hot fudge kind of frosting a try. It's NOT healthy, but mah gawd is it delicious!

Simply:
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 stick of butter
1/2 bag of dark chocolate chips
1/2 bag mint chips

Melt over medium low heat, whisk till well mixed and thick
Let cool for twenty minutes off the heat, whisking occasionally
Cut cake and pour hot fudge over each piece.

Devour! :)
-Melanie

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mmmmmmuffins

Every first Saturday of the month, I host a little playgroup at my house for moms with nursing toddlers. I always try to have healthy and yummy snacks, and with the holidays, I'm having trouble keeping it healthy. ;) Yummy is no problem though!

This is a "low fat" recipe... if you follow it as it says. ;) This time, I added pumpkin egg nog in place of buttermilk, flax seed instead of eggs (1tbsp flax meal with 3tbsp water per egg to be replaced), a cup of chopped cranberries, and half a bag of white chocolate chips.

Both texture and taste were divine, and they were gone so quickly! I only got to taste one because my 2 year old shared a bite.

Because they disappeared before I could find my camera, I didn't get a final picture! If you bake these, please share your pictures! :)

-Melanie

Thursday, November 10, 2011

DIY Picture Frames

Moving into our new house has catapulted me into decorating mode. I'm finally able to do the crafts that I started forever ago, but never finished because I couldn't actually use them in our rentals.

I found these cheap wooden frames at IKEA (3 pack for $2.99!) four years ago, and even though I had plans for them, it never seemed to get finished.

Now that I have somewhere to hang them, and I'm allowed to do it (because it's MY house, bitch!), those frames are getting crafted!

I painted them all with acrylic paints (2 coats) in colors pulled from my couch pillows, and printed up 30 of my favorite pictures in all black and white.

I eyeballed the placement using two existing screws, which I took down. Using string taped to the wall gave me rough measurements for placing the frames in between. They're not all perfect, but I think it's adorable!

I got that little saying from an online store that gives out codes making their items free, you just pay shipping. Stay tuned for my review of the decals, plus a giveaway of one of their other phrases!

I think the frames fit perfectly in the dining room, and I can't wait to get my chairs recovered so it all comes together!

-Melanie

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Taste Everything

That's it. Just taste everything as you're adding anything, after it's been simmering for a while, or before you bake it.

If it doesn't taste right, think of what would make it better. Sugar? Salt? Maybe some cumin in a Mexican dish?

Use common sense and get to know your kitchen and pantry. You'll be tossing things in like a pro in no time.

Good luck!
-Amanda and Melanie

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Soft Pretzel Recipe




  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  •  
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 4 cups hot water
  • Coarse Salt. Or cinnamon and sugar
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let sit until frothy, I usually wait about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center of flour and add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, and elastic,  about 7 to 8 minutes. Oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into equal pieces. 
Roll each piece into a rope 


and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, 
dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

Rub Butter onto pretzels and sprinkle salt on top, if you would rather have cinnamon and sugar pretzels add that after the butter instead.
We decided to enjoy our pretzels both ways! We had the salted ones with some cheddar cheese soup that I had in the pantry, it was perfect! These are so simple and way cheaper to make than to buy from the mall!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Side Dish : Fried Green Tomatoes

I was looking for something to do with the rest of the tomatoes left in my garden that aren't turning red because of the weather now. I came up with the perfect idea, Fried Green tomatoes! This is a traditional southern dish that is so easy to make and yet so delicious. 






Ingredients:
Green tomatoes
Fish seasoning
Eggs
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil
Corn Meal

Chop tomatoes into 1/2 in thick slices
Beat eggs
Mix corn meal and fish seasoning in bowl











coat tomatoes in eggs and then coat in corn meal batter














 submerge in hot oil and cook on each side for about 5 min each










This is so quick and easy it doesn't need much preparation and the cook time is very minimal. Bon App├ętit!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Perfect Pork Roast

Pork pot roast:

Brown the roast on all sides in a pan with olive oil or butter.

Ingredients: lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, s&p, red wine vinegar, olive oil
rosemary, garlic, onions, potatoes (I used Yukon golds), carrots, Brussels sprouts
Layer ingredients in Crock Pot- I like to put potatoes on the bottom and onions and garlic cloves on top... With a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper over every layer. Make the sauce to taste using red wine vinegar, Worcestershire, olive oil, chopped rosemary, crushed garlic, and s& p. You don't want the sauce to be too acidic, with just the right amount of sweetness. Have the juices come up to just barely above the meat.

My uncooked roast, ready to go.
Cook on high for 6-8 hours (check temp!), keep warm till plating.

Optional- make a gravy from the juices to put on the meat and veggies by taking some juice and flour, and shaking them together vigorously (in something similar to a martini shaker) and then adding back to the rest of the juice. Keep the heat on until the gravy is nice and thick, repeating the above step until yo reach desired consistency.

Serve with a slice of freshly baked bread and a glass of Pinot Noir.

Cheers!
-Melanie

Tuesday tip: Making and Storing Pumpkin Puree

I absolutely could not think of a better post to do the day after Halloween than this one! Everyone has left over pumpkins right? Instead of throwing them away you could turn them into pumpkin puree and save it to make pies (or whatever your little heart desires) for the holidays!
Making Pumpkin Puree is so simple and not very time consuming at all. You only need a few materials even the most simple of kitchens comes equipped with.

Materials:
Left over jack o' lantern (or new pumpkin)
Aluminum foil
Pan
Knife
Potato Masher (or spoon or food processor or mixer)
Ziploc Bag

Preheat oven to 350
First, rinse out your pumpkin, make sure it's clean inside, then chop it into several chunks about the size in the below picture.

Cover a cookie pan with aluminum foil and place the pumpkins on it and put into the oven for about 45min-1 hour


They will be soft and mash-able like potatoes.
Next you can peel the skin off the flesh of the pumpkin and then mash or mix them until they are smooth. Now you are all finished with your puree! You can use it now or store it for later.








To store pumpkin puree measure 1 to 2 cups of the puree into a Ziploc bag and place them flat (for better storage). Write the date and the contents on your package and you are all set! Your frozen puree will stay good for up to a year! It's perfect to save it up for those Thanksgiving pies!




I'm really excited to hear how many of you did this and what you plan to do with your pumpkin puree.


-Amanda

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stegosaurus Costume DIY

My mom's been sewing since high school and is teaching me how to now! We've done projects throughout the years, and this Halloween, she's helping me with a big back piece for my four year old's costume.

We bought two colors of felt and cut out squares with the Scentsy box lid as a stencil. Cut those in half into triangles, then stitched two sides together, and stuffed the inside.

Keep doing that, but trimming 1/2" off of 2 sides of the "stencil" so that your squares and triangles will be a bit smaller with each new spike as it gets closer to the ground.

We then sewed the third side, and folded out the flaps. I pinned those to the long strip of felt that we cut to be the in-between piece, and we sewed the spikes onto the strip.

After that, we sewed the strip with the spikes to a hoodless jacket. We ended up getting 6 spikes on my kiddo's costume.

I'll be tweeting the final costume pic on Monday! Follow us @homemadeharlots

Friday, October 28, 2011

Things I love: Eos Lip Balm

There are few things I love more than a good lip balm. No one likes rough scaly lips! I thought I would share my very favorite one with you here! EOS lip balm, it stands for evolution of smooth and boy let me tell you it totally delivers just that! It leaves your lips feeling amazingly smooth and they taste and smell great!


They come in 6 different flavors and have the cutest packaging!They don't test on animals and they are 95% organic and 100% natural! They have no crazy dyes or artificial coloring and I can pronounce and understand what every word on the ingredients label is! That may seem silly, but I like to know what I am putting on and in my body!

Here is a list of the ingredients I found on their website, which you can find here evolutionofsmooth.com

Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Beeswax (Cire D'abeille)*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Natural Flavor, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Stevia Rebaudiana Leaf/Stem Extract*, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract*, Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Fruit Extract*, Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Extract*, Linalool1. 1Component of Natural Flavor. *Organic. Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth. Patent Pending.

I love this lip balm and totally could not live without it anymore. I highly recommend you try it!


How to Clean Your Blinds

I have a white kitchen, so it is really hard to keep up with the cleaning of it, and if I don't want to be scrubbing all the time I just had to come up with another solution. When I mentioned to my mom that I was sick of looking out of the dirty blinds on my kitchen window she shared with me a little trick she has used for years. A quick reasy way to clean your blinds in a snap.

Here are my filthy blinds before. This is just a small area of it too!

Materials needed:
Grease cutting dish soap (I used dawn)
Scrub Brush

Place blinds in the bathtub and start filling it with warm water, add about 2 tablespoons full of dish soap(you can add bleach too or instead, but don't add too much or let the blinds soak for too long, because it will rot your blinds strings). When blinds are fully submerged, turn off the water and let the blinds soak for about 2 hours.

After blinds have soaked the take scrub brush and scrub blinds gently. Pull blinds out, and there you have it: clean blinds with minimal effort.

Here are my blinds after! So nice and clean!

Sure, you can take every slat out one at a time and clean them but why would you do that when this is such an easier and much more time efficient alternative!

Seasoning Cast Iron

My mom is remodeling her kitchen, that means I inherited several new-to-me kitchen items! I was so excited for her to bring the box over for me to go through. I found several useful items I needed and the stuff that I didn't need got donated of course!
A couple of my favorites were a new canister set
this measuring magnet
















and this rad flavor injector.
But the best thing of all that I inherited were these beautiful cast iron pans, a prized part of my grandmothers kitchenware. And now, they are all mine!


Along with the cast iron pans my mother passed on the tradition of seasoning cast iron to me too, and I thought it would be a wonderful thing to share with all of you! Seasoning cast iron is important to help your pans have a non stick surface and prevent your pots and pans from rusting. If seasoning is done correctly your cast iron will last a lot longer.

First we stuck them in the oven and let the ovens cleaning cycle completely clean them. And let it cool for several hours.
Next we washed the pans with a little water and used a stiff abrasive pad to scrub it. Then we placed them back in the oven to dry. A tip my mom gave me is, you should always towel dry or dry your cast iron in the oven, you shouldn't allow it to air dry because this promotes rusting.

Then we brushed the pans with some vegetable oil (although traditionally Crisco is used, I don't have this in my house.)



We let the stove cook the oil in a little bit and then placed them in the oven with the cooking side facing the bottom of the oven on 500 degrees. There is a lot of smoke during this process so you may want to have the oven vent on and some windows opened.
Finally brushed it with one last coat of vegetable oil and let it cool! I cant wait to cook with them! I will definitely be posting the first meal I make with them. I can't wait! There are lots of different traditions that are passed down for seasoning cast iron. None of them are really wrong just different than the last! I would love to hear the ways you were taught to season cast iron! 

-Amanda







Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homemade BBQ sauce!

Amanda and I made homemade BBQ sauce a few days ago, when most of my kitchen (pics coming soon!) was still in boxes. We used the recipe on the back of the molasses jar, and it came out super yummy!! We poured it over pieces of chicken thighs and baked for just over an hour at 400*.


 1 cup ketchup                                1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup Grandmas Molasses          1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup vinegar                              1/4 tsp Trappys red Devil hot sauce (we used franks red hot sauce)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Combine all Ingredients in bowl and mix well.

Our first time making it, we added way too much ketchup, and it was ruined. Keep mixing and tasting to find the perfect flavor!



And of course, BBQ chicken wouldn't be complete without a sticky messy pan. I got to wash this glassware in my new dish washer for it's very first real run, and oh my goodness! It works so beautifully!! Check out these before and afters... The importance of a good dishwasher!

Before:





After:



Super easy and yummy main dish! Enjoy!
-Melanie

The Importance of a Scentsy

When you have a clean home, free of any stinky stuff, having something to make it smell ever so delicious is a way to really make your home very inviting. For this, I <3 my Scentsy warmers!

No, I don't sell Scentsy, and I'm not doing any promoting in exchange for free product (though I'll gladly take some new holiday scents!). I just really dig the cute warmers, the green aspect of not burning candles, and the super yummy smelling house! Having a Scentsy tells your guests that you're fashionable (different themes and styles for every room!) and that you like for your house to smell as fresh and clean as it is.

Of course, you want to make sure that your house is, in fact, clean, otherwise your Scentsy will just be hiding some smell that will still be there when you toggle the switch off. Super gross, and you won't feel quite so proud of the home on which you work so hard. My current fave smell is Welcome Home, a gift from our realtor (she also gave us the bottom warmer!). It mixes the warmth of cinnamon, plus the smell of freshly baked cookies. Yum!!

Enjoy your delicious home!

-Melanie