Kathleen Nutter

Young adult fantasy author: Light Changers series. This goal of this blog is embrace my love of writing, cooking and painting.

Cottage Dill Rolls using a Bread Machine.

I decided to make some homemade rolls for tonight’s dinner using the dough cycle of my trusty Betty Crocker bread machine. I love that machine….even if it has tried to jump from the counter once, or twice.

Bread Machine

I got the basic recipe from Allrecipes:  Cottage Cheese Bread 1

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

I added a tablespoon of dill to the mix.  I have done fresh dill weed and jarred dill weed, and both turned out the same.  After the dough cycle was completed (about 1.5 hours), I dropped the dough onto a floured surface.

Pinch off about nine dough balls. 

 Very easy….no kneading, just pinch and  go.

Place the dough balls on a a tray to rise in a warm place.

Place the dough balls on a a tray to rise in a warm place.

I let the dough balls rise with a tea towel draped on top of them for 40 minutes. I used the silicone Silpat beneath them to keep them from sticking.

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

After they rose, I did an egg-white wash (one egg white with a tablespoon of water added.) I decided to sprinkle sea salt and sesame seeds atop the egg-washed dough balls. Sesame seeds are so cute.

Close-up of the egg wash and sesame seeds.

Close-up of the egg wash and sesame seeds.

Now, bake the little buns for about 15 minutes at 350, until golden brown.  I often use my sense of smell when making bread. If you don’t smell the bread, chances are it is not ready!

Here they are:

         

For dinner, we made Pesto Turkey Burgers which were amazingly delicious and highly recommended. Click on the hyperlink above for the burger recipe.  I prepped the rolls and the burgers ahead, so when dinnertime came around, I slapped the burgers on the Foreman grill for a few minutes and then plated them.

The cottage dill rolls made the burger perfect!

Happy bun making!

Kathleen ❤

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Labrador Retriever Swimming in the river- winter photo session

I decided to do a little photo shoot of the labrador retriever, Sunny, in her element…..the water.  It was absolutely freezing, so I didn’t throw the stick too far.  I did saturate some of the hues to bring out the vivid colors and make the photos feel more exciting. Check it out:

Frolicking in the water

Man, do I love this one. 

The water is flying everywhere.

The next one is her Hobbit tribute since she whipped out her elf ears.  I couldn’t shoot one to look like that again if my life depended on it.

Sunny as "elf"

Sunny as “elf” or Yoda.

  Here she looks a bit like a mobster smoking a cigar.

—-or Cujo (good thing her rabies shot is up to date).

I can’t leave you with her looking all crazed. So here is one last normal labrador fetching shot:

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for checking out my photos!

Kathleen

Red Quinoa Veg-taculous Salad

I am trying to eat healthier and cleaner.

“I am trying to eat healthier and cleaner.”

“I am trying to eat healthier and cleaner.”

While on a quest for fabulous, satisfying food options, I muttered this to myself over and over. Then, I discovered the grain of the gods….or, rather, Incas.

******RED QUINOA******

Red quinoa

At first, I read the container as glutten-free.  Turns out it is GLUTEN-free (big difference)–good for those with wheat and gluten sensitivities; bad for those gluttens who want a calorie-free carb (heh, heh).  This particular brand is grown in the Andean Plateau, and although I have no clue where the heck that it, it sounds nutritive.

To start our recipe, begin by adding 1 cup of the red quinoa to two cups of water. 

Bring them to a boil on medium-low with a lid, and set your timer for about 15 minutes (or until the water is absorbed.)

While the quinoa is cooking, let’s create the dressing. Combine:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • lime juice to taste (up to the juice of two limes)
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Making the dressing.

There is a fake lime in my photo because my bag of real limes are grainy, juiceless duds that make me mad and don’t deserve stardom. Stupid grainy rejects—–> You. Will. Be. Compost.
Whisk it all together.

Now, I know I am a little wishy-washy on the amount of lime juice part, but my kids hated the salad with the acid.  I personally like the juice of two limes in the salad.  My kids like the juice of NO limes in the salad, so we compromise and I remove some salad for them adding only olive oil and salt.   Regardless, you can always add more lime later in your individual bowl.

I would like to take a moment away from my lime-induced anger to comment on how much I love sea salt and cumin as a couple.  Here is a tribute to their compatibility.  They are perfect ❤

Setting the dressing aside to gel, I think it is time to prep the veggies, cilantro and black beans. I often add avocado to this as well, but not today because I wasn’t feeling it.

I add:

  •     1 can of drained black beans
  •     1 cup of baby spinach
  •     1 diced up cucumber
  •      1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (or to taste)
  •      1 pint of organic cherry tomatoes (cut in half)

Look at these delicious cherry tomatoes:

Georgeous organic tomatoes

 I didn’t used to buy organic tomatoes, but having read an article in Mother Earth News, I learned that tomatoes are amongst the dirtiest non- organic foods. These guys are from Safeway and are scrumptious.

Keep in mind, during this process, YOU are the quinoa salad ARTIST. I am merely your quinoa salad muse. You can subtract any of these ingredients and add others like diced red onion, garlic, chick peas, or corn. Dig deep, my pattawans, dig deep.

*DING*

Lucky us, I think the quinoa is DONE!  The first time I cooked quinoa, I was appalled to open the lid to the pan and see little squiggles bursting out of the grain.  Turns out, this is normal and the grain is done.  You will need to chill the grain in the fridge, seeing how our salad is intended to be a cold one. Since I am used to this recipe, I often chill the grain during the veggie chopping.

See, the squiggles could psych you out, if you let them.

The squiggles could psych you out, if you let them. DON”T LET THEM!

Now, for my favorite part.  The putting-it-all-together-to-eat-it part.

Add the vegetables, beans, cilantro, chilled quinoa, and dressing.

Add everything together!

Here it is!  I love this salad so much, I can hardly stop eating it.  I eat it for lunch and sometimes add tuna or chicken for some lean protein. It also keeps for several days. 

I hope you are able to unleash your inner quinoa salad artist and create a scrumptious and healthy masterpiece of your own!

❤ Kathleen

Kale Chips

Ahh, kale chips.  One of those things someone tells you about at work and you go running into Safeway after work to gather the supplies.  Okay, maybe not most people, but I did, since I am a nutter/Nutter. 

First things first, I surfed All Recipes for my trial recipe, where I found one called: Baked Kale Chips by Lucy DelRey 

When I look for recipes, I am a total snob.  I only like ones with near perfect stars.  This one fit the bill. More importantly, I loved that it has three ingredients: kale, olive oil and salt. FABULOUS.

Having read several reviews, I learned to choose kale leaves that were very curly.  Being a farm girl….NOT, I didn’t know there was any other kind of kale, so I chose correctly. There were bags of pre-chopped stuff but it looked gross, so I would have opted out of kale chip making completely, if it weren’t for the pretty gems featured below *cue hallelujah chorus*

Bunch of kale.

Since I have a huge fear of finding suprise worms and never-before-seen beetles with pinchers, I soaked the crap out of the leaves.  There are many little niches, so be sure to open up any hidey-holes.  Kids don’t “do” bugs…if you ever want them to eat veggies again.  For that matter, NEITHER DO I. I would become a steadfast meat-a-terian in a hot second over bugs…..or exclusive carnivore….whatever. I am happy to report that I was completely paranoid and the leaves were bug-free. Shewwwww.

I removed the big, nasty stalk and made more chip-sized kale pieces.  The recipe from All Recipes suggested spinning the excess water off of the leaves. That is a great plan if you aren’t a big lazy bones, like me–I shook them like a Polaroid picture. 

The recipe suggested that you could mist the leaves with olive oil.  I don’t own a mister because they are clogging hunks of junk, so instead I placed them in a plastic bag added some oil and salt and shook them to coat evenly. Too much oil is a no-no. I also dusted them with white pepper and placed them on parchment paper.

Cut up pieces.

Cook them on 350 for 8 to 12 minutes. I personally cooked them for around 6 minutes, then opened the oven and flipped them. If you go too long they burn and turn to dust.  If you don’t cook them long enough they are soggy and disappointing. (NO PRESSURE, or anything).  Just stay nearby with a watchful eye, pray to the kale gods, and you will be fine.

After some experimentation, here they are:

kale 2 kale 1

The kids and husband thought they were neat and tasty with the 12-year old stating, “it’s hard to believe big leaves can melt down to not taste like leaves”.  They ate the whole batch. It was good.  They were salty, crisp with a nutty crunch.

Hopefully, you can try out the recipe and let  me know of any alterations that worked for you!

Brazilian Shrimp Stew

There are several things I know about Brazil–be prepared to be wowed and amazed.

  • First, Brazil is in South America.
  • Second, for some reason their language is Portuguese, and at some point in history Portugal opened a can of whoop-ass on them to make them NOT speak spanish.
  • Third, a bunch of Victoria Secret models are from there. Hot ones, not the un-hot super models. They are very tan, too.
  • Fourth, Brazilian Shrimp Stew is the bomb and perhaps I too can look like a super model (well, a washed-up, not tall enough, old one with an average body) if I eat enough of it.  I am sure it has nothing to do with genetics.

My love affair with shrimp stew began several years ago at a super boring in-service at work.  My friend was clearing out a pack of her husband’s cooking magazines, and I was flipping through them to stay conscious. It is, after all, unprofessional to fall out of your seat asleep with drool dripping from your mouth while at in-services….awkward….

The December 2002 issue of Gourmet magazine caught my eye: “Brazilian Shrimp Stew”.  The actual name is Moqueca De Camarao with a funny accent over the last “a”.

Since the word “Brazil” was nowhere in the title and I wasn’t sure what a “camarao” was, I did a quick double take of the ingredient list to make sure camarao didn’t translate to kabobbed squirrel or fileted muskrat.  *Shewwww….safe.*

Here is the squirrel and muscrat free recipe list:

DSC_0077

Let’s go ahead a make a batch….

Start with a pound or so of deveined, peeled shrimp.  I always add closer to 2 pounds because I am a glutton for meat. Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, two cloves of minced garlic, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  The cooking shows will say fresh squeezed lemons are the way to go….I say, who cares. I have used fresh squeezed and bottled and honestly, the family still eats the dish like a pack of wild dogs–so, whatever.

You want to use a decent sized shrimp or they shrink up to the size of Sea Monkeys.

You want to use a decent sized shrimp or they shrink up to the size of Sea Monkeys. Guests don’t want to eat Sea Monkeys.

Next, let’s tackle the onion and green pepper. Be sure to dice them up dramatically so your family thinks you are crying real tears. Then, your significant other will grab the knife from you and finish because they hate to see you cry and *viola* you have a new sous chef.  Don’t question my methods….just cry like a blubbering baby.

 

Cook the onion and peppers in olive oil in a skillet until they are softened. To this mixture add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  If you are not into spicy, you can add less. The 1/2 teaspoon adds a bit of kick the mixture, and if you are unsure, air on the side of conservative. You can always increase the amount of cayenne later.

Also, try not to take a big wiff of the cooking fumes during this stage.  Believe me, I have pepper-burned my nasal passages before….which, in retrospect, is probably karma punishing me for the fake-onion tears. Karma’s a bitch; so is a cayenne sinus rub.

Cut up a fresh bunch of cilantro.  You will need 5 tablespoons total for the recipe but only one tablespoon right now. Toss one tablespoon into the green pepper, white pepper, cayenne skillet and mix them together with your spoon. Seriously, still don’t take a wiff. Resist the urge, like the hot, Zeroxed papers from elementary school.

Fresh cilantro.

Prepare the pureed tomatoes.  I love this part because it creates a lovely thick tomato mixture.  I use my treasured little blender since it fits the 15-ounces of tomatoes quite well and minimizes the clean-up efforts, after the fact. Sigh—it is my last little blender cup from the cheap smoothie-making set from a few years ago. I consider it a mini-blender memorial cup.

Diced tomatoes

Add tomatoes

Add the tomato puree to the skillet, simmering until the sauce is very thick (about 15 minutes over medium heat).

Adding coconut milk

Stir in a can of unsweetened coconut milk.  I have used the lite and regular versions of coconut milk with good results. Obviously, the non-lite version is richer in taste.  I suppose it depends how fat you want to grow your butt.  If you want a big Kardasian butt, go regular strength.  I think the Brazilian super models likely go lite, since they have to wear tiny, knit  bikinis.

I love how the skillet takes on a pinkish color from the lightness of the milk. From boring red to…..uh, wild, flaming flamingo? I will have to work on a better color descriptor.

Adding the shrimp to the skillet.

Adding the shrimp to the skillet.

Finish the dish by adding the marinated shrimp mixture and remaining 4 tablespoons of cilantro.  Simmer until the shrimp are just cooked.  Rubbery, over-cooked shrimp are a big “ewww” and your friends will think you are a suck-y chef.

I wanted to add a ditty in regards to the dende oil.  It is impossible to find. My husband found palm oil in a jar at a random ethnic place which has since gone out of business (hopefully, NOT because its dende caused brain damage—though, that would explain a lot).  A little internet research suggested that a dash of peanut oil has the same effect as a tablespoon of the elusive dende. I will let you run your own experiments on that matter.

The grand finale.  Add a scoop of rice to the bowl and cover it with the finished Shrimp Stew. I am so posh.

We use a scooper to make the rice pretty and portioned.

We use a scooper to make the rice pretty and portioned.

Top it off with a healthy helping of stew.

Top it off with a healthy helping of stew.

YUUUUUUMMMM!  I am still not skinny like a super model, though. I must have used the Kardashian-grade coconut milk.

Homemade Dog Bones

Today’s super bizarre project surrounded the creation of homemade hand-cut dog bones. My husband was hell-bent on incorporating leftover turkey leg meat in a crunchy bone-looking product, and he did.

First, he scoured the internet for a potential recipe from iVillage for Crunchy Dog Biscuits, making some modifications. You see, the original recipe asked for bullion cubes and additional salt, which seemed ridiculous for a dog willing to graze our backyard to eat leftover droplets of chicken feed, so we left that part out.

Then, my husband took the dark turkey meat and crispified (is that a word?) it in the oven at 550 degrees until very dry. He cut it to smithereens with a knife noting the food processor as a better future option for cutting crispified meat (uh, yeah?).  Here are the ingredients:

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus extra for sprinkling on a countertop

1/2 cup cornmeal

4 tablespoons vegetable oil plus extra for coating the cookie sheet

1 and 1/4 cup of vegetable broth

1/4 cup finely diced oven-broiled turkey meat (until extra-extra crunchy)

Hand mix until formed into a soft dough.

DSC_0058

They rolled the dough out on a well-floured surface to about 1/4 thickness before hand-cutting the bones from a bone -shaped cookie cutter (don’t you have bone cookie cutters just lying around your house?)

Detailed of cut doughReady for the oven!

Ready to bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees until nice and done. When completely cooled they were beautiful; crisp and solid.

Cooked bone.

Note the thin, crunchy appearance.

Note the thin, crunchy appearance.

Et voila, the dog bones were ready for the test subject:

DSC_0082

Alright, I know what you are thinking….what Labrador doesn’t eat anything that hits the ground?  The answer….*drum roll*…..MINE.  My lab will walk past a pretzel on the ground because she doesn’t like them, and will hold out all day to eat her Iams dog food in hope that the Dog Food Fairy will happen past her bowl leaving a drop of gravy behind.  Simply put, my dog would never make it in the wild.

We tempted her with the bones:

The test  She ate them.  She loved them. We were HEROS. By the way, make sure you label the bones something super-crafty.  I wrote the following: “Crunchy bones, for dogs that listen.”

….because we all know dogs can totally read.

Happy Bone Making ❤

DSC_0085

Ninjabread Cookies

My 14-year old daughter and I ran into a cookie making kit purchased from Five Below at the premium $5 price. It was love at first sight….after all, who could resist the allure of making gingerbread cookies for the holiday?  We laughed, we cried–we mostly laughed.

Gone are the days of the lame so-called “man” cookies  running “as fast as they can” from…God knows what… like little girls in skirts.  Heck no, these little gems are dough-punching, fighting machines…with little candy buttons.  Think Jackie Chan meets Carlos Bake Shop. Real cookies are not afraid to wear buttons.

DSC_0040

My daughter painstakingly rolled the dough from the kit and scraped the molasses warriors off of their birthing, I mean, baking sheet. Then, she whipped up the miniature icing kit to begin piping the detail work. She did complain about the chintzy amount of icing in the kit.  She is a bit of an icing-eating addict, so normally I would think she ate the rest when I left the room.  This time, however, I watched her whip it up and, yup, chintzy. Check out the mug on this one:

I wouldn't want to be the glass of milk t o meet up with that one in a dark alley.

Yikes, I’d hate to be the glass of milk to meet up with that one in a dark alley.

The stage was set; buttons were added, icing was placed.  Some “cookies” had uni-brows and crazy grins…some wore blank stares as serious as a heart attack.

Fear the ninja with the crazy-big grin.

Ninja 101: fear the ninja with the crazy-big grin.

Make them again and again.

Make them again and again.

I won’t lie to you, the cookies taste like cardboard, but remember they are not about taste; they are about toughness. More importantly, the last cookie standing is:

ALWAYS. THE. WINNER.

DSC_0028

Happy kick-ass cookie making ❤

Kathleen

Tween Tree Mural on Wall

This mural was free-handed on the wall in chalk for a 12-year old girl. The entire mural took about 4 hours.

Chalk sketches on the wall.  Wipe off the branches if you want to make changes to the composition.

Chalk sketches on the wall. Wipe off the branches if you want to make changes to the composition.

Trees are pretty neutral as a girl gets older.

Trees are pretty neutral as a girl gets older

 

Check out Donna Dewberry’s One Stroke method of painting, if you need help in the leaf department.  That is an easy way to create beautifully shaded leaves!

 

Tree mural

Adding leaves and depth with some shadows on the left and some light highlights on the right.

Adding leaves and depth with some shadows on the left and some light highlights on the right.

Happy Painting ❤

From plain pine wardrobe to bird’s egg-colored, distressed hutch

We decided to transform the boring pine wardrobe that once held a tv (the old fashion BIG kind) We removed the top and moved it back to create a hutch. The tacky luan plywood was removed and tongue and groove boards were added to the back.

I like the little hooks added for the white tea cups. Those unbalanced buggers liked to skydive from the cabinet for sport.

Before the doors were added.

Before the doors were added.

The paint color used was Bird’s Egg from Sherwin Williams. After great research online looking at pics, this website saved the day for me:
www.centsationalgirl.com

WOW– did she do her homework. The only problem is my family thought they were going to develop seizure disorders from the blue once it was painted. Ok, it was bright, but “the family” lacked the vision….which was **drum roll**—–antiquing medium. I used my fav: Folk Art Antiquing medium, which I made an inky consistency with water and floating medium. I made sure to accent the edges and grooves. I wiped off the extra if I got all heavy-handed and crazy.

(Note the annoying 18-month old battle-cat ready to spring out of the cabinet whole when I least expected it. Crouching Tiger–hidden paintbrush slayer.)

Details of the antiquing finish

Details of the antiquing finish

Ta-da. We added glass to the doors, got rid of the boring *yawn* wooden knobs for more vintage (yet cheapity-cheap) dark knobs. Knobs are everything. All white dishes were added to complete the buffet.

buffet 3

Even if Captain Disaster was in the mix….

Fun--fun--fun.

Fun–fun–fun.

HAPPY PAINTING ❤

Quail Egg Wreath Natural

Quail Egg Wreath Natural.

Quail Egg Wreath Natural

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