Summer Ceasar Pasta Salad

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I could go on and on about how I'm not a foodie/food blogger, but would that stop me from only posting recipes? Probably not.

I have a few DIY projects in the works, but since I put myself on a spending freeze, it may be a bit before those get done. Anyone else go hog wild spending during the summer months? I've got a problem, people. More on this later!!




This summer salad is a staple at our house. It's super simple to make.

Summer Ceasar Pasta Salad

1 package bowtie pasta (Farfalle for all you foodies out there)
1 bottle Creamy Caesar dressing of you choice
1/2 c. finely diced red onion
Original Mrs. Dash (with the yellow lid)
Baby spinach
1 package shredded parmesan cheese

Optional:
Romaine Lettuce
Bacon
Diced Chicken Breast

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While it's cooking:
Dice onion- the finer the better. I use about 1/2 c. but you could easily use more or less based on what you like.

Chop spinach- I usually chop it very small so my kids don't ask questions. You could skip the spinach and chop up some romaine if that works better for you family. Still tastes great.

Cook optional items- My husband loves this salad with chicken and bacon but I mean come on…..Doesn't that seem like a lot of extra work? Well, for me it does, especially when I want to throw this together 10 minutes before throwing a steak on the grill. BUT, if your man likes meat, cook up some chicken and/or bacon and let him know you really care.

Drain your pasta (I like to run mine under some cold water, then drain again). Throw it in a large bowl and add everything except the dressing and Mrs. Dash. Once everything is incorporated, add your dressing. Start small, you can always add more. Then shake on some Mrs. Dash, again, start small until you figure out how much you like!

Why, yes. This is an exact recipe. Sorry.

Throw it in a fancy dish so your kids can ask, "Who is coming over?" Blank stare. Just eat it, please.



Also, side note about the creamy caesar dressing. They are NOT made equal. And no two stores seem to carry the same brand. Why is this? Maybe it's my 'small town problems' rising up. You are going to have to taste test here and find what you like. I have used Ken's Steakhouse brand with much success, but can't always find it. If you find one you love, let me know so I can try it!!

xoxo
Tracy



Killing It Shirt DIY (and Free Freezer Paper Stencil)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Can I tell you how much fun I had doing this shirt?  Probably too much.  Super straight forward, pretty darn quick = my kind of project.

Here's what you do:

Cut your stencil out of freezer paper (scroll to the bottom of the post for a free stencil).  Use a Cricut, Silhouette, or your handy dandy Xact-o knife. Make sure the waxy side is down.  It should look like this when you're done:

killing it stencil with freezer paperkilling it stencil and neon shirt


Next, place your stencil on your shirt (waxy side down!), then iron on.  Make sure the stencil is completely ironed on around the letters to ensure you get clean lines and no bleeding with your paint.  

freezer paper stencil before ironfreezer paper stencil after iron


Then, place some cardboard inside the shirt so you don't bleed through to the back.  This also gives you a better surface to paint on.  I used a folder from my filing cabinet, which actually worked perfectly.

folder to prevent bleedingfolder inside


Time to paint!  I used a small paint brush and Tulip soft fabric paint in velveteen black -- only because this was the only black Joann's had.  I was curious what it meant by velveteen...I will show you in a minute.

tulip soft velveteen blackkilling it neon shirt


I definitely recommend painting at least two coats, and make sure you get into the corners.  I'm all about crisp lines.  Repetitive much?  Let it dry, then peel off your freezer paper.  Ka-chow.  

paint two coatsremove stencil


The instructions on the paint bottle recommend letting it dry for 4 hours.  You should probably follow their instructions.  However, I'm not very patient.  I waited for maybe an hour...it was definitely dry to the touch.  Then, with your iron on steam setting, hold iron 1/2 inches above the painted surface until the paint appears textured.  This was the coolest part!  I could finally see what they meant by "velveteen".  It got kind of furry.  You probably can't see...but maybe if you zoom waaaaaay in... Furry sounds weird.  It wasn't like growing hair or anything.  Just a little soft-ish.  

steam killing itfinished product


Boom.  Done and done.



Here's the stencil, just for you.  Right click, save image as, and save it to your desktop.

free killing it stencil

To use with an Xact-o knife, print it out from there on regular printer paper.  Then place your freezer paper over it, use a little tape so it doesn't move on you, and trace your letters.  Now cut out your letters with your Xact-o knife.



Enjoy!



xoxo

Mandy



Sweet Potato and Cherry Baby Food with Steel Cut Oatmeal

Monday, July 14, 2014

I tend to make most of Sam's baby food, and this is one of his favorites.  I love how easy it is and that it's so much cheaper than buying the pouches or the tiny glass jars.  Don't get me wrong, I still keep jarred baby food on hand.  It's definitely more portable than homemade baby food and I love that I can keep a couple of jars in the diaper bag and not have to worry about refrigeration.  But most of the time we're at home, so having fresh baby food in the fridge makes a lot of sense.  And less processed = better for you, right?



First off, get your steel cut oats cooking.  Usually, a 1:3 ratio of oats to water works best for me.  For this recipe, use 1 cup of oats to 3 cups of water.  Add 1 tsp of pink salt and 1 tsp of coconut oil.  I've found the coconut oil keeps it from sticking...and something about healthy fats...and everybody else is doing it or something.  Once it boils, cover and turn down to low.  Let the oats cook for 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.  You'll want to keep an eye on the oats and stir occasionally.

pink himilayan fancy salt whole foodscoconut oil

While your oats are cooking, scrub your sweet potatoes and pierce all over with a fork.  Microwave them for 7 minutes.  Pit and slice your cherries while sweet potatoes are cooking.  When the sweet potatoes are done, take them out of the microwave and wait til they are cool enough to handle.  Once they've cooled down a little, slice the skin and peel it off.  


You can slice the sweet potato into big chunks, or if you have a high powered blender, you can stick it in whole.

I ended up using 2 cups of cooked oats, 1 cup of cherries, 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, and 1 cup of water for this batch.  I blended until smooth (2 "Whole Juice" cycles on the Blendtec).  I put the mixture into pint sized jars and 4 oz baby food jars to freeze, and maybe a pint in the fridge.

Here's a what my jars look like after a couple of hours in the freezer:


This mixture is great for babies 8 months and up, but as always, check for allergies and consult your pediatrician if you have concerns.



Homemade Sweet Potato and Cherry Baby Food
with Steel Cut Oatmeal

1 c steel cut oats
3 c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coconut oil

Add the above ingredients to a 2 quart sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, cover, and turn to low heat for 20 minutes until oats are soft and water is absorbed.  Add more water if needed.

2 medium sweet potatoes

Scrub and pierce all over.  Microwave for 7 minutes.  Remove from microwave, allow to cool a few minutes until you're able to handle them.  Slice the skin of the sweet potato with a sharp knife and peel the skin off.  It should come off pretty easily.

1 c of cherries

Wash, pit, and slice cherries.  Set aside.

Once oatmeal and sweet potatoes are cooked, add 2 cups of oatmeal, all of the sweet potatoes, and all of the cherries to the blender.  Add water to thin to desired consistency (I used around 1 c).  Blend until smooth, then divide into jars.  Freeze some and keep some in the fridge.

I will stir in a couple of tablespoons of the leftover oatmeal into Sam's applesauce with some cinnamon to use it up.  Or you can eat it!  Slice up half of an apple and stir in, then top with a little dollop of whipped cream and you're good to go.  Hello, breakfast.

Do you make baby food?  Will you share your favorite recipe with me?


xoxo

Mandy


FOUR STEPS TO EPIC FAIL

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Today we are going to discuss the  
four classic steps to the perfect DIY EPIC FAIL. 
Let's begin, shall we? 



STEP ONE: THE IDEA

Suddenly, you have an amazing idea. 

"Hey, I think instead of buying a ridiculously expensive dining room table, I should just DIYsomething. I mean, why not? I've done something similar before……."

Enter the $20 yard sale find. 


I am planning to turn this baby into the Mid Century Modern minimalist table of my dreams complete with glossy red hairpin legs. I.can't.wait. 


STEP TWO: THE HYPE

I get right to work and start sanding off the golden oak colored stain. 



Now, for the HYPE.  
I think to myself, "OH.MY.WORD. this is going to work! I mean, it's going to work!!! How could it not, right?? I found this perfectly good solid wood table top for $20 at a yard sale. Sand this baby down and stain to my liking and I'm half way there!! Way to go, me!! "

Now, sit back and continue to hype yourself up. 

"This  DIY is going to work out perfectly, fit like a glove into my space and Domino Magazine will indeed be knocking on my door for a photo shoot by morning." 

Beep Beep. Consider my horn tooted.  


STEP THREE: EXECUTION AND FAILURE TO LISTEN

Have you ever had a little voice inside your head tell you not to do something? Of course, we all have. Do we always listen? Probably not. Here's what mine was saying to me….

"Tracy, don't use that stain. Don't do it. Just don't. Something bad is going to happen." 

So, I start to stain the top. 

"Tracy, STOP. For the love of all things DIY, you can still fix this. STAAAAAAAAWWWWP!" 

So, I put the rest of the stain on. 

WHY.AM.I.NOT.STOPPING????


STEP FOUR: HEARTBREAK/HILARITY= EPIC FAIL

What did I end up with? EPIC FAIL
A table top that was too dark and other serious issues. I have no idea what was wrong with the stain I used. It wasn't a new can but it wasn't that old either. I had used it for other projects and loved it. 
You can't see this in the picture but the stain on the table never dried. 
After a few days of waiting, it was sticky, almost glue-like. 
#messygaragephotobomb



When I started the long process of sanding it off, I went throughout a trillion sanding pads due to the sticky stain, gumming them up. 




Sometimes you just have to get mad, then laugh and then start over. 
Or listen to that little voice in your head in the first place.  

Here I am today, sanding like crazy, hoping that it will still turn out the way I picture it.


Keep your fingers crossed for me!


Please tell me you've had an EPIC FAIL you'd love you share! We'd love to feature you!

xoxo 

Tracy 

If You Liked It Then You Should've Put Your Name On It

Monday, July 7, 2014

If I'm taking dinner to someone, I usually stack everything on a baking tray to make it easier to carry...and I tend to forget to bring it back home. Writing your name with Sharpie will work for a little while, but it rarely looks good and washes off after awhile. Let's not even talk about what masking tape will do.  I noticed the logo was etched on to the bottom of my tray and wondered if I could somehow etch my name on to it as well...because I like my baking trays.  And if you like something, you better put a ring your name on it.  Otherwise, it doesn't always make it back. 



I used my Silhouette to cut my last name out of contact paper, but you can use an X-Acto knife and cutting board if you don't have a cutting machine.  If you use an X-Acto knife, I have some tips for you at the end of this post.  

After cutting your letters out of contact paper, you're left with a stencil.  Remove the paper backing and apply your stencil where you want it on your pan.  Then, take your X-Acto knife and make small scratches within the stencil. I did diagonal lines for mine, but the options are limited only by your patience.  


I rotated my pan 180 degrees so I could come at it from a different angle. This ensures the X-Acto knife reaches all the edges which results in crisper letters once you remove the contact paper. 

    

Ta da! I kind of love it. And it only took 15 minutes of Sam's nap to do it.  


You can use this technique to personalize wedding gifts (and ensure they can't return your present...muahahahaha) or just for your own stuff. 

Tips for the X-Acto knife method: 
  1. On your iPad, go to dafont.com.  Find a font you like (the more blocky, the better.  It's easier to cut out of the contact paper).  
  2. Tap on the font you want and it'll take you to the page with details about that font.  There's also a spot to have it generate a custom preview, and this is where you'll type in what you want to etch.  If it were me, I would type in "MUNNS".  
  3. Tape your contact paper on to your iPad and color in the letters with a Sharpie.  Be careful not to damage your iPad.  That would be sad.  
  4. Move the contact paper from your iPad to your cutting board and use your X-Acto knife to carefully cut around your letters.  After you've cut out your letters, you're ready to go!  

If you make one, tag me on instagram (@epicincblog) so I can see it!  I can't wait to see what you make. 

xoxo

Mandy 

PROTEIN PACKED GREEN SMOOTHIE

Thursday, July 3, 2014


"You can't even taste the spinach." Are you waiting for me to say that? Doesn't every one say that about green smoothies? I mean, they're healthy AND delish. Unless, they taste like you just mowed your lawn, then they just taste healthy.

I'm not into that.

It has got to taste good for me to keep drinking it.

Trust me, you won't have to plug your nose to choke this one down. It really is healthy AND tastes great. I drink this in the morning for breakfast. Like, every morning. But I could eat the same thing every day, for every meal. I'm pretty boring like that, as long as it tastes great.




PROTEIN PACKED GREEN SMOOTHIE
  • 8 oz Almond Milk - Original or Unsweetened - use what you prefer
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 4-5 ice cubes
Blend it up and drink cold. Sometimes I run it twice as long to really get it smooth. 




I'm loving this particular smoothie because it keeps me full until lunch. No snacking needed. It has some killer protein and fiber. If 380 calories (see nutrition info below) seems a bit much for you in the morning, try cutting the banana in half or reducing the Almondmilk to 4 oz. or switch to the unsweetened variety.

Even though it looks like you just mowed you lawn, it doesn't taste like it.  Promise.




Give it a whirl and see what you think.


xoxo

Tracy



Nutrition Facts
  1 Serving
  
Calories380.0
Total Fat30.5 g     
Saturated Fat3.1 g     
Polyunsaturated Fat0.0 g     
Monounsaturated Fat2.5 g  
Cholesterol0.0 mg  
Sodium276.0 mg 
Potassium441.6 mg  
Total Carbohydrate47.0 g     
Dietary Fiber14.6 g     
Sugars21.0 g  
Protein14.0 g





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