28 February 2013

Dainty Cake Pops

I hope you're finding this week's kitchen tips pretty helpful. 
Today, another blah to TADA! idea:

I tested a recipe for citrus cupcakes. After baking, I felt the citrus taste was lacking. On hindsight, maybe I should have used the zest and a little more of the juice. But such happens with trying out recipes, some are successful, a few are not.

I didn't want to waste the cupcakes. I toyed with the idea of making a citrus glaze, or soaking them in limoncello similar to a rum cake. But because I already had the ingredients on hand, I made a few cake balls.

I crushed the cupcakes into crumbs.

I mixed a little bit of store-bought frosting.

I shaped them into balls. 

Melted some candy melts on a double boiler, and dipped in the cake balls until each one was fully coated. Then I put them on a plate until the chocolate hardened.

TADA! Cake balls that are ready for afternoon tea. 

Next time, to cut the sweetness, maybe I'll try peanut butter, speculoos or cream cheese instead of the frosting. I'll let you know if that turns out to be TADA!.

27 February 2013

Tabbouleh Salad

Do you like using herbs in your cooking? Fresh herbs lend a lot of TADA! to a dish. Most of the time, however, I don't get to use the entire bunch.

Take parsley for instance. A few sprigs are enough to add flavor and color. Blah, wilted parsley is what I want to avoid. So I found a recipe for Tabbouleh.

Tabbouleh is a salad made of bulgur wheat. It's rich in fiber and friendly for vegans and those on a gluten-free diet. In and of itself, it's healthy.

And when you add these ingredients -- Bam! Double healthy points! There's parsley, mint, cucumber, tomatoes, scallions, lemon and oil. 

Here's what Tabbouleh looks like.
It's light and refreshing.

Serve it with grilled meat like lamb chops.

Or inside a pita bread sandwich 
{with leftover chicken and hummus}.

The recipe was from this book.

Tabbouleh Salad {from the Mad Hungry Cookbook}

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
2 tomatoes, diced 
3 scallions (white & green parts, trimmed and sliced thinly)
2 to 3 cups chopped parsley, stems removed
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaved, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, or more to taste

Rinse the bulgur wheat in cold running water and soak in a bowl of water for 20 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Add the tomatoes, scallions, parsley, cucumber, and mint. Toss together.

Whisk together the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and salt. Stir the dressing into the salad to fully combine. Serve or cover and refrigerate for up to two days.

26 February 2013

Tuna and White Bean Salad

My philosophy in crafting extends to the kitchen -- I don't like waste. If there's an opportunity to turn blah to TADA!, I'm on it.

Here are some of the items that seem to hang out much longer than usual in my vegetable drawer: celery, scallions, herbs and lemon. The recipes I use them for only require a few stalks or half the amount so there's always extra. I'm determined to find good use for them.  

I've been cooking from this book, and it has rewarded me with many new recipes to try, using staples that I already have. 

Today, I'm trying out a Tuna and White Bean Salad. Here's what you need to do:

Mix together one or two cans of tuna {drained} with several handfuls of beans {cooked dry beans or canned -- make sure to drain them}. Add some olive oil, a dash of vinegar or citrus juice {in my case, lemon}. Add any raw sliced veggies {like celery, scallions, bell pepper or fennel}. Add some fresh herbs or a pinch of ground dry spices {like coriander, paprika or cayenne}. And because I had an apple, I diced it up and added that, too. Serve this on greens, on toast or as a side dish.

This salad is refreshing, hearty, healthy and I'm proud to say, my fridge crisper is now clean! TADA! 

25 February 2013

Panettone Bread Pudding

Hello dear friends! This week, we're spending some time in the kitchen. I'm trying a few recipes and I'll tell you if the results are blah or TADA!

This is a panettone, a sweet Italian bread generously sprinkled with raisins, candied fruit, sometimes nuts and chocolate. They're popular during the holidays and I've given them as gifts on a few occasions. A slice, paired with coffee or tea, makes for a wonderful breakfast or snack. 

The size of this bread is massive, so I turned half of it into a bread pudding {this is a TADA! way to use up blah, stale bread}. I followed this recipe, replacing the sourdough or French bread with panettone.

 Panettone all cubed up.

I added some chocolate chips on top
before pouring in the custard. 

 Here's what it looks like after baking. 

The top was a bit crumbly, the inside soft and moist. It had just the right amount of sweetness {I used less sugar than was required} and the built-in candied fruit and additional chocolate chips added enough crunch and character. A definite TADA! if I should say so myself.

Now, I've had bread pudding at restaurants and a few of them served a sauce with it. Why not make one to give this comforting dish an extra TADA!? For the sauce, I followed this recipe.

The bread pudding resulted to many tummy rubs and a satisfying "yum" with or without the sauce.

Cinnamon Baked French Toast {recipe from The Pioneer Woman}

1 loaf Crusty Sourdough, French Bread or Panettone

8 whole Eggs

2 cups Whole Milk

1/2 cup Whipping (heavy) Cream

3/4 cups Sugar

2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract


1/2 cup All-purpose Flour

1/2 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Salt

1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces

Fresh Fruit  or chocolate chips (optional)


Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.
Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and work into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a zipper bag in the fridge.
When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. If you're using fruit or chocolate chips, sprinkle on before adding the crumb mixture. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.
Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup or bourbon sauce*.
*Bourbon Sauce {recipe from Cooks County}
1 1/2  teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 - inch pieces
Pinch salt 
Whisk the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the bourbon together in a small bowl. Heat the cream and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of bourbon, butter, and salt. Drizzle the warm sauce over individual servings of the bread pudding.

22 February 2013

Reliable Remnants

My sole intention this week was to turn an old mouse pad from blah to TADA! I did just that using an adhesive drawer/shelf liner in a fancy print. I had so much paper left over, I decided to use it for other projects:

Lacquer box, storage container, clip board, mouse pad 
Don't worry, the items are spread out around the home and office so there's no print overkill. LOL!

The transformations have yielded some remnants...another opportunity for blah to TADA!

With a craft punch, I made these flower stickers.

They work as cute envelope seals!

May your weekend be fun and festive!

21 February 2013

Superstar Storage

While puttering in our bedroom, I found this box:

It's an empty watch box. It's occupant is worn on a regular basis and hangs out on the nightstand, leaving this box forgotten, ignored. 

The box is quite attractive -- black, made of lacquer and the inside is lined in velvet. Maybe it's time to give it a little attention.

With a touch of adhesive paper, blah has been transformed into:

TADA! -- a trinket box that can be proudly
placed front and center on a coffee table.

20 February 2013

My Crafty Container

Some fancy food gifts have the perk of being 
packaged in tin containers:

Maybe you received something like it over the holidays? Some are dressed in a charming print, while others blatantly have a brand splashed across it. No need to fear, blah to TADA! is here.

Cover the can in an up-to-the minute print using gift wrap or adhesive shelf liner.

Reuse the can for storing daily necessities like tea bags or loose tea. This keeps the freshness longer and adds a decorative touch to your desk or kitchen counter.

19 February 2013

A Cute Clipboard

I bought these drawer/shelf liners with a 
modern color combination and print:

I used them yesterday to dress up a sad looking mouse pad. I have so much of it left over, I think I'll find many ways to finish it up.

blah: a clipboard that's seen better days.

TADA!: The same clipboard, all grown up.

Overwork and overuse it with lists and
photo inspirations!

18 February 2013

Marvelous Mousepad

I hope you guys had a beautiful weekend! Today, I'm tackling a project that's been on my list since last year. It's quite minor, but given that I use it everyday, shouldn't it be pleasing to look at? 

Here it is -- it's this mouse pad.
It was a freebie and it's terribly blah.

I sought out these rolls of adhesive paper. They're really used as shelf/drawer liners, but just because they're made for that purpose, doesn't mean we can't use them for other stuff, right?

I traced around the mouse pad and cut it to size.

I removed the paper backing and gently attached it to the face of the mouse pad. I used a straight edge {ex. ruler or bone folder} to remove any air bubbles.

See the transformation -- from blah to TADA!

Can you blame me if I'm in love with my "new" mouse pad?

15 February 2013

Love Letters

Today, I'm carrying over some love in the form of love letters -- old-fashioned wooing in a more modern format.

via Pookie and Jack
Various letters reincarnated as a cushion cover

via uncommon goods
Hand towels printed with loving prose

via uncommon goods
When the white towel is opened up, it looks
like a sheet of paper. I'm loving the 
typewriter font!

via Bueno Style
A miniature love note that can be worn 
close to your heart.

via country living
This one involves a little more work. First, you'll have to bake the cookies, cover it with icing, and then write a letter using these edible markers. Don't be too sentimental because unlike traditional love letters, this can't be stashed in a box under lock and key.

via For Such a Time Designs
Another option is to write the letter
and have it engraved.

Aren't these ideas blah to TADA!?
Have a joyful weekend!