Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tasty Thursday Easy Falafel Recipe!

I've been so busy lately that my menu planning has gone completely kaput. Still, I've managed to find a couple tasty recipes the family has loved.

Last week, we tried Melissa D'Arabian's Falafel recipe. It was a huge hit with the kids! If you've never had falafels, they are essentially deep fried balls of hummus. Hummus is basically garbanzo bean dip. How can you go wrong with deep fried balls of anything?

As usual, I made a few changes to her recipe based on what I had on hand.

Easy Falafel Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 1/2 cans)
  • 3 green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Generous 1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • Generous 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup flour, plus 1/4 cup flour for shaping patties
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • pita bread
  • Chopped salted tomatoes, for garnish
  • Grated cucumber, for garnish
  • Otria Greek Yogurt Cucumber Feta Dill dip*

Directions

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, green onions, garlic, cumin, cayenne, parsley, cilantro, egg, and lemon juice. Pulse to combine and season with salt. The mixture will not be smooth, but it should not have large chunks.

Add in the baking powder and 1/3 cup of the flour and pulse to just combine. Remove to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove the chickpea mixture from the refrigerator. Add enough oil to a large saute pan so it reaches 1/2-inch up the sides and heat it over medium-high heat until an inserted thermometer reads 360 degrees F.

Meanwhile, drop spoonfuls of the chickpea mixture onto a plate with 1/4 cup flour. Roll into balls on the floured plate and press gently into patties. Fry in batches of hot oil for about 3 to 4 minutes each side and drain on paper towels.

Serve the falafel into pita bread with chopped salted tomatoes, grated cucumber and Greek Yogurt dip.

* The dip frequently goes on sale and has great coupons with it. I can usually pick it up for under $1. And it's totally tasty!

While the recipe is on $10 dinners includes a couscous recipe, I didn't make it. The kids were inhaling the falafel and didn't mind the lack of a salad. This recipe as I made it, fed 8 people and the total cost was under $5!

I imagine these store really well. I plan on making a batch at the start of the week for quick school lunches.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hurry up and wait

The worst thing for me is waiting. I hate it. I am an impatient person, which probably goes hand in hand with the ADD. I want things now because if I don't deal with it now, I get distracted.

Right now, the house is in hurry up and wait mode.

We are waiting on contractors to do HVAC and electrical. It has pretty much brought our work in the house to a standstill.

We can't paint because it's too humid. Today, we had 85 percent humidity. And we can't turn on a/c to bring down the humidity because the house doesn't have a/c. And fans? Well, that would mean having the electrical functioning properly.

Also on the waiting list? Glass replacement and repairing the gas lines to the house. Everyone tells us they will be done by the second week of August but no one has actually started working yet which leads us to believe we might actually be in the house sometime before the end of the Mayan calendar.

I'm still waffling on paint colors. While I love the colors I posted, I'm not entirely sure it's "me." The paint lady suggested a sophisticated color choice, but let's face it, I'm anything but sophisticated. I love whimsical, eclectic and somewhat tacky things. Heck, I'd love to own Beyonce (not the singer, the giant metal chicken).

I love the color our kitchen used to be before I painted it blah beige because D picked out blue counter tops (one of those pick your battles kind of things. The whole house would be various shades of blue if I let him pick).


But I'm also starting to dig the orange that's currently in the kitchen:



I think with the right backsplash, maybe drawing in some of the green, maybe some turquoise...like this color palette we're doing in Leelee's room, based off of this spiffy little project:

I'd love everyone's thoughts on this. The house is a blank canvas at this point.

Friday, July 22, 2011

String Theory

home improvements are sometimes like pulling at a string on a sweater: you pull too much at once and the whole thing unravels and creates a great big mess.

There was ugly carpet that had to come up. There was water damage to it. Under that we found no surprises: warped subfloor due to water and moldy subfloors.

Obviously it had to come out. We knew there was hardwood. What we didn't know was the state of the hardwood. Best case scenario was: carpet layer, subfloor layer, hardwood floors.

But of course, that wasn't the case. Today, we ripped up the warped board (you know the one that I was terrified of) to find a dead body of sorts: dead linoleum. It would have been beautiful in it's day, full of that late 50s era stars and gold flecks. It hadn't been cared for and for some reason I cannot fathom, they had nailed it over and over down on to the hardwood floors. Hundreds of nails. Big ones, little ones...nails everywhere. The nails are so rusty that the heads disintegrated as I tried to pull them out. It's like a tetanus accident waiting to happen.

It went from bad to worse when we ripped up the moldy subfloor. That's when we discovered that are theory that the dining room used to be the kitchen was spot on: Big gaping holes in the linoleum where the pipes went.

This probably explains the decision to add subflooring and carpet. Between the sheer number of nails and the likelihood of it being asbestos backed linoleum, it seems like the "cover it up and pretend like it doesn't exist" was the best option.

The good news in all of this, is we got to see exactly the thickness of the oak hardwoods. And it's thick. Nothing like I've seen even in our current home with hardwoods. This house was built to last.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Old House Love

My kids get it. The old house love. It makes me so happy they understand my passion for this old house.

As we pull back the layers of wallpaper, we're uncovering history. It's like a small glimpse into the personalities of the people who used to live there. I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was a kid. Restoring this house, I feel like one.

Last night, as we peeled back the layers, Danger Girl found old newspapers that had been painted over. Newspapers were sometimes used between the layers of paint or wallpaper to act as insulation. One strip of newspaper contained a vintage ad for Coca Cola!

Leelee said it was like having "history right in our hands!"

Sometime around 1950 (guessing by the wallpaper style), someone's child got a pen and colored on the walls! I guess some things never change. I can just imagine how furious the parent must have been! There are far fewer options if your child colors on the wallpaper than if he or she colors on the painted walls.

We got down to the earliest layer of wallpaper in Leelee's room. It looks to be little cherry blossoms. I'm sure it was beautiful in it's day. I'm trying to get a large enough area exposed and without damage to frame.

Also in her room, someone slammed the door open so hard it made a perfect imprint of the turn of the century door handle right in the plaster walls.

Not all finds in the house are going to be happy discoveries. We knew there was an issue with the casual dining room carpet (aside from it being there in the first place). I suspected water damage. The Boy and I pulled it up to find plywood under flooring which had certainly had some water damage. What we didn't expect to find was the fire damage.

We don't know what's under the plywood. I'm afraid to find out. But, we are not pulling it up until we are prepared to put something else down beyond peel and stick tiled. Oh yes, we're going all out for the first stage :P I guess we have to pull off the water damaged pieces of plywood and we'll find out.

But I'm absolutely terrified to see what's under it. I have this irrational fear someone has buried a body under it. I need help.

Downy Unstopables Review


I recently received a bottle of Downy Unstopables in the mail to try and review for Vocalpoint.

This product claims that if you sprinkle in a little or a lot of the product in with your wash, it will leave your laundry smelling fresh for up to 30 days in storage.

I am not a fan of smelly laundry products. They usually leave me itching and sneezing. With this product, you can squeeze the cap to get a whiff of the scent, which was nice. I like products that let me do a test sniff so I can decide if I can tolerate it. It saves me a lot of money. Downy Unstopables did not make me sneeze!

The whole idea of the product is a bit weird. I don't "get" why you need to add extra smelly stuff to your laundry to make it smell like flowers longer. I do know there are people out there who equate smelly fragrance to clean and it takes them to a happy place. I'm not one of them. My husband, however, is.

Recently I purchased a laundry detergent he hated. And, being a couponer, I had lots of it. So the first test of the Unstopables, was to see if it made the "yukky" laundry detergent tolerable. I used maybe a teaspoon in the wash. The label said "use a little or use a lot" so I figured I really test it out.

D was very impressed. His clothes smelled nice and he was happy.

Then, I tried it with my clothes to see if I'd itch. Surprisingly, I didn't have itchy skin! The product doesn't claim to be hypo-allergenic. YMMV if you have sensitive skin.

Leelee took the next test run of it as she was helping wash the boys' laundry while they were camping. Teenage boy stench. She used an entire cap full. "Mom! The laundry doesn't smell like goats!"

Success!

Laundry doesn't last unused in our house 30 days so I can't attest to the claims that the scent will remain that long. The small amount I used in my own laundry was still noticeable after a week, which is very different than the typical laundry products we use.

If you'd like the chance to try this product yourself, you can join Vocalpoint where they will be giving away more samples of the product.

Will I buy this again? As a couponer, I'm not brand loyal. But I can tell you that if there's a good coupon and a sale, I will stock up. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Favorite Things





I'm definitely not Oprah, but I do have a few favorite things I wanted to share with you all in pictures. No, you can't have them. I think my mother-in-law wanted to steal the first one:



That would be our new inner front door. The house has two, well technically it has three, but for the purpose of this post, this is the second front door after opening the door to the foyer. It has a really cool twisty doorbell that is original to the house. My Mother-in-law actually called one of my sisters-in-law and rang the doorbell for her. It is terribly cool.

Next, we have our mail slot. It is next to the first front door. The mailman walks through the neighborhood to deliver the mail.


As always I love to see my husband work

He's using a dremel multimax tool. It is taking that wallpaper down without much of a problem at all. And under all the wallpaper, we found this:


We plan on framing this section of wallpaper so we can remember what it looked like years ago. It's very pretty. Printed on the seams is Made in the USA. There is one layer of wallpaper below this before we hit plaster but we couldn't get it to separate from this layer. Based on the age of the house, I'm guessing this to be circa 1930. Of course, all our estimates may be off. A former owner of the house said he believes it was actually built in 1890. I'm sticking to my 1901 estimate, however, since the house looks very much craftsman on the outside with Victorian influence on the inside.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Step 1: Pick paint



I like bright cheerful colors. D claims the first time I got to paint a house I channeled my secret love of hamburgers. The walls were "ketchup red," "lettuce green" and "mustard yellow" with "hamburger brown" wood floors. I think D is color blind. They were definitely not those colors. Not even close!

Today, my sister and I hit the paint store. Sissie's husband just transferred to the town I live in. She might make an occasional appearance on the blog. Anywho, Sissie and I both like to paint. She also likes colors...just a different palette than me.

The first person to help us pick colors at the store was a man. He doesn't speak woman so when I said "fun, funky" he stared at me blankly. He put together a palette and I just didn't LURVE it. So I sought help from a woman who promptly told me my color choices were juvenile and it was her job to help me select a grown up "fun and funky" color scheme for the house.

And I am really happy with what she chose when I explained what I was looking for.

Here are the colors I'm leaning towards in the kitchen:





I'd love to hear opinions on this :) The red accents are in the appliances that I already own: microwave and blender.

And for the living room, I really wanted yellow. Apparently, people are afraid of yellow. Yellow makes me happy.



So yay or nay? I'd love to hear opinions :) Do you love color? Yellow? Green? Or are you a neutrals kind of person?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Confession: I have been holding in a big secret





My big secret?

On June 20, D and I went to look at my dream house. It was in rough shape. A 1910 Craftsman with four fireplaces and no central heat and air. That's a big deal here in the south.




As soon as I walked in, I loved the house. We hadn't planned on moving until January.

But, sometimes things workout in unexpected ways.

Today, we got the keys. We are going to be restoring a 100 year old house.

Holy smokes.

My big secret is we're moving. In three weeks. In to my dream house.

My blog will soon be full of home improvement things. And I think back to my Be Her goals for June: Be positive. We were positive. We were hopeful. And for July the goal was humble. And I've truly been humbled by how we've been blessed. The seller of the house agreed to our terms. They are wonderful people who live in the neighborhood. And it's a real neighborhood where people walk on the sidewalks and play in parks and have community meetings. Truly humbled by the blessings.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Congratulations to our Winner!

A big congratulations to the winner of the jam/canning giveaway....Samantha from SweeTidbitz. She shared this yummy looking recipe. I had no idea you could make juice concentrate and can it! Definitely something I'm interested in trying!

Well, I would LOVE to try making homemade Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate! It'd be perfect on any of these hot summer days! =)
(Also would be a great option at my 9-year old's lemonade stand she's hosting for childhood cancer research!)

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

6 c. strawberries, cleaned and hulled
4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 c. sugar

1. In a food processor (or blender) puree strawberries in batches.
2. Transfer strawberry puree to a stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat. DO NOT BOIL. Add lemon juice and sugar and stir to combine.
3. Using a candy thermometer to measure (dip it halfway in the mixture and don't let it touch the pan) heat to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Test it every few minutes, it will get there quickly. Remove from heat.
4. Ladle mixture into jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim, center lid on jar and add screw band.
5. Place jars in canner. Jars should be covered by an inch of water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes.
6. Don't forget to put the lid on!
7. Remove lid after processing and let jars sit for 5 minutes before removing.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Confession: I enjoy goofy traditions




Each summer, I line my kids up at the beach, the lake, or the pool...wherever I can make it look the most interesting...and I take a picture.

It started out as me being "creative" and trying to learn how to take better pictures. The kids were old enough the first year that they didn't complain. In fact, D is the only one who seems to complain. The kids know what to expect. They line up. Sit up straight. No moving.

D, however, rolls his eyes. The kids are finally big enough, he's no longer required to be in the process other than an extra set of hands at the pool. Two years ago, he was holding up our two month old on a log. I photoshopped him out.



Fast forward a couple years. I really see that my babies are getting bigger. The boy is getting ready to grow tall. He always fills out just before he grows a foot. I think we may see another 6 inches of growth in him, since he hasn't gotten taller in the last 12 months. That will put him at just about 6 ft! yikes!


The pictures are lined up in matching frames on our living room wall. I'm not the greatest photographer, but I have gotten pretty good at getting rid of people from photos! In fact, there were 6 people IN the pool today I had to get rid of. I just hope one day, the kids appreciate these photos.