Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Clock DIY Make-Over

Last week, I saw a post online where someone repurposed an old clock by taking off the face and painting it. I tried looking around, but I couldn't find that post again. I've been wanting to add a clock to LE's room, but I really didn't want to spend more than $10 bucks on one. 

I casually looked around for a little while. It wasn't until I had to go to Walmart to buy spraypaint (the cheapest place I've found it) that I walked by their clock aisle. Their basic Mainstays brand 8.75 inch wall clock comes in a few colors, and it costs under $4. Add a little scrapbook paper for less than $1. Bingo! A new clock that comes in under 5 bucks.

If you have an old clock that needs new life, or if you're like me and need to revamp a new clock, follow along for the step by step. I'll explain how to do this using thick scrapbook paper as the face of the clock, but with small adjustments to the tutorial, you could use fabric or paint instead. I was able to get this very easy DIY done from start to finish during LE's nap. 

Take a mental note of how the clock hands are placed before you take your clock apart. Flip your clock over and remove the screws that are keeping the face to the back.  Snap out the battery pack, which will remove your clock hands.

Flip the clock back over to the front. Measure the width of the inside. The Mainstays clock face is 7.75in. If the clock face isn't glued in (mine was), remove and discard it.

If you have a Silhouette craft cutter, your job will be super easy (skip to instructions). If not, it will just be mildly more difficult. Print a circle the size of the clock's face (use Microsoft Word or other software that allows you to specify the exact size of shapes) onto the back side of your scrapbook paper. Use scissors to cut out the circle. You should probably buy die cut numbers for the clock unless you are really good with cutting. 

For the Silhouette users:
  • Open Silhouette and draw a circle to fit your clock's face. (7.75in for the Mainstays clock)
  • Pick a font that you like for the numbers. I used Skia.
  • Adjust the size of your numbers until you like it. The 12 in my clock was 2.5in, measuring from the top to the bottom of the 1. 

  • Once you get everything to the size that you like, move all of the numbers and extras to the outside of the circle.
  • If you're using the same paper for everything, send your paper through the Silhouette on a mat. For thick cardstock, use the pink blade at 2 speed and 33 thickness. I didn't find double-cutting necessary.
    • If you're using different paper for the numbers, just make sure you tell the Silhouette which items to cut (e.g. just the circle or all of the numbers/dots)
  • Use Mod-Podge, spray glue, or your choice of non-wrinkling adhesive to adhere the paper circle to clock's face. Before adhering, take note of where the 12 is on your original clock. You'll need to be sure that's the top of your new clock's design since that aligns with the hanging mechanism on the back of the clock.
  • Paint your cut out numbers, if needed. Apply glue dots or your choice of adhesive to the back of the numbers. Adhere the 12, 9, 6, & 3 (not the dots yet); that will allow you to get them straight. If your clock is like the Mainstays one, there are visible screw holes to help guide you. 
  • Poke a small hole in the paper and then push the battery pack through from the front to the back. This will make your paper bend towards the back. Carefully remove the battery pack and reattach it to the clock the correct way.
  • Attach the hands the same way that they were originally. For the Mainstays clock, the hour hand goes first shiny side up. Then, the minute hand goes matte side up, and then the second hand snaps in on top. 
  • Rotate the hands so that all of them line up at 12. Using the dial on the back of the clock, turn it to 1. Place a dot. Then use the dial to turn it to 2. Place a dot. Continue for the rest of the dots. This ensures that you are placing them in the correct places.
  • Place the glass and cover back on the clock. Screw everything back in place. Admire your new clock!

I haven't decided where in LE's room to place the clock yet. For now, it will live with the sock monkey.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chickpea Patties with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

After our trip to NYC (oh crud, I still haven't posted about that!), my brain was reeling with vegetarian, easy, and budget-friendly recipes. 

When we visited, my vegetarian older brother had just moved from New Orleans to Manhattan to start his graduate film work at NYU. His apartment is tiny, and the most notable thing for me was his lack of a cooking space. His kitchen, if you'd call it that, consists of two portable electric burners, a sink, and a mini fridge. No oven. No microwave. No toaster oven. No freezer. How is he going to survive without having to eat out every meal? 

What I liked about this recipe is that you can make the patties and sauce in advance. Then, just heat a teaspoon or so of oil in a pan, throw in however many patties you want to cook, and save the remaining uncooked patties for the next day or two. You could also very easily scale the size of the patties down to serve as appetizers for entertaining. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with garam masala, it's a great spice to add to your cabinet. It's a spice blend that smells wonderfully fragrant. If you're not ready to commit to the whole jar, if your grocery store carries bulk spices, you could pick up just what you need for a few cents. Don't leave it out, though! It adds a little something extra that these patties definitely need.

Chickpea Patties with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
Adapted slightly from the America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook (highly recommended, by the way)

Serves 6 (Note: ATK considers one patty a serving. I managed to get 10 patties, even with measuring them out, and I considered 2 the right portion size for a dinner.)

2 slices high-quality white or whole wheat sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded (use a spoon and scrape them out), and shredded
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups 2 percent Greek yogurt
6 scallions, sliced thin
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed
2 large eggs
2 tsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp cheap-o olive oil
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 shallot, minced
3/4 tsp salt
lime wedges for serving

Preheat oven to 350. Pulse bread in a food processor about 10 times for coarse breadcrumbs. Spread evenly over a baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally until golden brown and dry, from 4-12 minutes (Depends on your bread; Mine took 4 minutes to be really golden).  Let cool at room temperature.

Toss the cucumber with 1/2 tsp salt in a strainer. Let it drain for 20 minutes, and then squeeze out as much liquid as you can using your hands or a cheesecloth. In a small bowl, combine the cucumbers, 3/4 cup of the yogurt, 2 tbs of the scallions, and 1 tbs of cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor about 8 times until you have a coarse puree with large pieces still remaining. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 tbs of good oil, garam masala, cayenne, and 3/4 tsp salt. Add to the bowl the chickpeas, breadcrumbs, remaining 1/2 cup yogurt, remaining scallions, remaining cilantro, and shallot. Mix gently until just combined.

Form 1 inch thick patties with about 1/2 cup of chickpea mixture each, yielding 6-10 patties. 

Heat over medium heat 2 tsp of oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet. When oil is shimmering, place 3-4 of the patties into the skillet (don't let the edges touch each other).  Cook until well-browned on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer cooked patties to a plate and tent with foil. Repeat until all patties are cooked, heating 2 tsp of oil in the pan each time you place new patties.

Serve with the cucumber-yogurt sauce, lime wedges, and a simple side salad. 

To make in advance, store the sauce in an airtight container for up to 2 days without a loss in quality. Stir before serving. To store the patties, place them in a single row and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Tuck the plastic wrap around the edges of the patties to seal them in. Additionally, cover the container with a lid, if possible. Patties can be stored without a loss in quality for up to 24 hours, but definitely still good for up to 3 days. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Crisp Photos

Yesterday, I posted this Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp

I didn't include my little helper in the photo, though, as soon as she heard the buzzer go off on the oven, she ran to the little spot in front of our glass doors where I take food photos in the afternoon.

I have a little crate propped up on a small table. Before I could get the crisp out of the oven, LE set up her own props with great care.

And then, when she saw me:

Before I could set my camera down to strap her into her highchair as I pulled the hot dish out of the oven, she put the oven mit on, thinking she'd help.

What a cute little helper.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp

pinterest note: Given the season, this recipe has blown up on Pinterest! Good! I feel like I should note that it's important to use apples that aren't mealy to start. They should be apples that hold their texture and shape when baked, like McIntosh or Granny Smith. Otherwise, your dish will overcook. If your apples are a softer variety, just plan accordingly and reduce the cooking time (potentially just cook uncovered the whole time until browned on top). Happy cooking!

As mentioned previously, we have a lot of apples from our trip to a nearby orchard. It's a good thing apples last about 3 weeks in the fridge!

I have been bustin' out apple dishes every couple of days. So far, I've only shared with you the Cranberry Apple Pumpkin Muffins, which I've made twice. I have a couple of others in mind to share with you in the coming days.

Today's recipe was spurred on by my desire for something new in the morning. I hate eating cereal. It gets expensive, not to mention dull for the taste buds. That's what brought me to the Baked Oatmeal and Chai Granola that I shared a few months back. Those are great, but I like the idea of waking up with the flavors of the season.

And a barely sweet apple crisp was born. Granted, I did not come up with the idea (that was Deb at Smitten Kitchen), but I did tweak it a lot to fit my taste preferences. I actually prefer it less sweet and buttery than Deb's, with a few more spices, added ground flax for Omega-3s (optional), whole wheat flour, and a lower cooking temperature. Whew!

Though I didn't this time, I will probably divvy these up among ramekins instead of the large pan to save the step of portioning it into a dish each morning. I also plan on adding about 1 cup chopped frozen cranberries to the apples and leave out the lemon juice. I love the cranberry/apple combo.

Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp
Makes one 8x8 pan, which should yield 6-9 servings

1 1/2 lbs tart baking apples, cut into approx. 1/2 inch chunks
1 tbs lemon juice (optional)
1 tbs demerara sugar (evaporated cane juice) or brown sugar
1 tbs of arrowroot powder or cornstarch
3/4 tsp ground apple pie spice (a mix of mostly cinnamon with a little nutmeg and cloves) or all cinnamon
3 tbs coconut oil or butter
2 tbs light honey (like clover honey)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sliced almonds or other chopped nuts (optional)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Place apples in the bottom of 8x8 pan. Evenly sprinkle over the apples the lemon juice, sugar, arrowroot powder, spice, and a pinch of salt. Toss the apples the best you can; it doesn't have to be perfect.

In a skillet, melt the coconut oil or butter. Stir in the honey and then the rest of the ingredients (flour, oats, almonds, shredded coconut, and cinnamon).

Pour the oat mixture evenly over the apples. Cook uncovered on the middle rack until it gets golden brown on top (about 20-25 minutes). Cover with foil and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes. It's done when the apples are tender and juices bubbling.

Cool it at room temperature before covering and refrigerating. To reheat, uncover and microwave single portions for about 45 seconds. Or, reheat larger portions in the oven at 225 until heated through.

For breakfast, eat it plain or serve it up with yogurt or a splash of milk or cream. For a healthy dessert, serve it up with a small scoop of frozen yogurt or whipped cream (like the one with the Pumpkin Spice Latte). YUM!