Friday, August 03, 2012

New Items

I listed a few new things recently.  Head on over to my etsy shop to check it out!

Monday, July 23, 2012

What I've been up to: In pictures!

I've been Jigsaw puzzling...

 Trying out new weaves and making new jewelry (soon to be properly photographed and posted on etsy)...

Baking for the volunteer that is leaving us at work and heading off to college...

Coming up with a display for a jewelry craft show (and subsequently being bored out of my mind at said craft show because it was a complete flop)...

 And to top it all off I found a new friend at the Renissance Faire this weekend!  His name is Wingsley the second of House Fuzzypaws.  And yes he is indeed a winged wolf/dog.  I owe the fantastic name entirely to The Boy who names things better than anyone.  

Not pictured here is the lightbox which I finally got sorted out somehow.  I'm not sure exactly what I did, but I've been afraid to touch it much since it got straight.  My to-do list this week includes photographing and listing all the new pieces I made, so stay tuned to my etsy site for the influx!

The other major thing on my to-do list for the week is coming up with a preliminary plan for Christmas so I can get anything that needs to get started early started now.  Any suggestions for crafty gifts that you all care to share?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chicago Food Swap

So there's this new thing showing up across the country called a food swap.  I don't remember where exactly I first heard about it, but I was thrilled by the idea and immediately signed up.  Basically you make a bunch of food items and bring them to a location and swap them with other people for the food items they made.  Awesome!

The one I did was at the beginning of June and I baked up a storm for it.  I brought bagels, tortillas, and chocolate cookies.  In exchange I came home with some pretzel rolls, whoopie pies, jams, limoncello, salsa, popcorn, banana bread, and fudge.  It was a fabulous haul!

Delicious!  I've also signed up for the next swap in August.  So far the plan is cinnamon butter, tortillas, and multigrain bread.  I can't wait!!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Cooking Week 25: Regional Italian Beef

I live in Chicagoland.  When it comes to regional food we're known for our hot dogs, Italian beef, Deep Dish Pizza, and since I'm close to Wisconsin- Brats.  I don't like the first and the last and since week 26 was going to be pizza, I didn't want to do two pizzas in a row.  So I set upon making Italian Beef from scratch for Father's Day dinner.

I found my recipe here.  And loved being able to use my crockpot on such a hot day.

I served it on classic Gonnella rolls with oven fries and salad (not pictured because I forgot).

Friday, July 06, 2012

I'm back!

I apologize for the extended unexpected absence.  Things have been a little crazy here in the ThunderCrafts household and between that and the heat, I haven't felt much like posting.  I'm back though, with plenty to share in the upcoming days.

Short post for today since I have to figure out how to make my new light box (light tent? not sure what the official name is) stand up straight.

Any suggestions?

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Cooking Week 23: 20 minutes or less pan fried pork

20 minutes or less is a lot harder than you think.  My first idea of a meal that I usually make that I thought for sure would be under 20 minutes (garlic, olive oil, pasta, and broccoli) took only 10 minutes cooking time, but more than 20 just to boil the water.  Fail :(

My next plan was stir fry.  I picked out a recipe which I'll be making tonight only to realize that it requires the chicken to marinade for an hour.  Fail again.

What I wound up with instead was something I wasn't planning on using for the challenge, but I realized after the fact in fact only took about 12 minutes to make!  This is why there are not many pictures of my pan fried pork cutlet.

I found the recipe on Pioneer Woman's site (I love her!) and am very happy with it.  Basically you heat some oil and butter in a skillet while you dredge the pork cutlets in a spiced flour then  fry about 2 minutes on each side.  Super quick and very tasty.  I paired them with some microwave broccoli and roasted potatoes not included in the 20 minute challenge (as they took about 25)

This will definitely be a repeat recipe for me, although the boy requires I serve gravy with it next time.

Monday, June 04, 2012


The previously mentioned party was for my friend and ex-coworker who moved to NYC who is back for a few weeks before she goes galavanting around Europe for the summer.  Said friend LOVES sheep ( I suppose this makes it appropriate that she'll be spending 6 weeks in Ireland then) so I decided to make the sheep cakes pictured on the cover of this book.

Mine didn't come out as nicely as the books but she was thrilled with them.

The base is made of pound cake and the heads are milano cookies.  You dip them in melted frosting tinted black.

I had problems with the melted frosting hardening on the cookies and sheep feet.  I had them in the fridge and freezer FOREVER, well past the suggested 30 minutes, and they were still tacky when I was working with them.  Perhaps I had too much frosting on it, but I was thinking it would have been a lot easier if I had used chocolate ganache instead of frosting.

If you want to give them a try check out the book from your local library and try your hand at the sheep or any of the other ADORABLE creations in the book.  

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Cooking Week 22: Cherry Tomato Tart

So I really wanted to do a Nutella tart since I heart Nutella so much but I realized despite my many many pans I do not own a tart pan.  I could have made it in a pie pan, but I think that then makes it a pie rather than a tart.  The line between the two is so fine.  Instead I made a puff pastry cherry tomato tart.

I found the recipe here.  Well actually I found it on Pinterest which led me to that site but you get the drift.

I think I used too much olive oil since it started to pool a pit when it came out of the oven but it was delicious.

I forgot to take prep pics as I was doing this VERY shortly before a party and was in some what of a rush :)

Definitely delicious though and I'd make it again in a heartbeat.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Peek Into My Craft Corner

So I mentioned before that I had moved (way back at the end of March).  The move resulted in a tiny bit more space, but more importantly, the layout drastically improved in our new apartment.  Well technically it is a condo, not an apartment (what's the difference, anyone know?) but anyway.  In our old apartment the master bedroom was where our bed was and where I had all my stuff as well (the boy used the second bedroom as his office).  I had some bookshelves and an old student desk to work at.  I found the setup inconvenient and I almost never did my crafting at my desk.  Instead I setup TV trays in the living room when I wanted to work on things.  In this place, because the size of the smaller bedroom would make the boy claustrophobic if it was his office and we can't put the bed in the same room with the boy's computer because I can't fall asleep when he's next to me screaming about hoards of zombies in his game, it means that the master bedroom is a dual office.  He gets half the room for his books and computer and I get half for my books and crafts.  Thus I present to you my crafting corner!

As much as I would have liked to buy a nice fancy L or U shaped desk for my new craft zone, I tried to save money and re-purposed things that I already have.  Between my old desk (which I should mention was a Kmart purchase about 15+ years ago) and a table we used in the old kitchen, I got a good L shape going. I use TV trays as needed for extra space.  I also need to do a bit of cleaning but it harshes my mellow man. ;)  I'm really happy with my corkboard to-do thingy.  Provides inspiration in the event that I sit down and don't know what to do.

Despite the abundance of cooking posts I have also been working on my crafts and I will be sharing my progress with you shortly.

Until next time!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cooking Week 21: Crepes

This week's theme is French which I was thrilled about.  I don't know if I've mentioned it before but the boy and I went to Paris a few years ago and I loved everything about it- especially the food!  After I spent most of the week debating what to make I finally settled on Crepes with sugar and butter.

They aren't as good as the ones I had in Paris,  but eating them still reminded me of walking around the streets, taking the metro, and falling face first into the middle of the street because that's just the sort of clutz I am.

Before I share the recipe I suppose I should share what I made for last week's challenge.

Yeah...That's burned rice.  Like really really burned brown rice.  It was going to be the start of a fried rice dish but instead we had takeout that night.  I like to call this dish Fire Rice! and yes the exclamation point is important.  I made brown rice once more since then and undercooked it.  Obviously I need some serious brown rice practice.

Anyway, back to delicious crepes.  I grabbed the recipe from Le Cordon Bleu cookbook (because hey- Le Cordon Bleu) and followed the sweet crepe recipe.

3/4 c. flour, 2 T. sugar and a pinch of salt sifted into a bowl.  My sugar and salt is too coarse so it doesn't really sift well, but the flour is the most important bit.  Make a well in the center and crack 2 eggs into it, add 1/2 t. vanilla, and 1/3 c. milk.

Whisk together until smooth and add 3 T. melted and cooled unsalted butter and 2/3 c. milk.  Whisk together until combined.

Let batter rest 30 minutes at room temp.

When ready to make the crepes brush a crepe pan with melted butter.  I think I used an omelette pan and I melted the butter right in the pan because I was lazy.  Pour some crepe batter in the pan and swirl to cover.  The book says 2T but I was using closer to 1/4 c.   Cook until golden brown on one side and flip and cook the other side.

As you can see my swirling is not always the best.

Butter lightly and sprinkle with sugar then fold in four.  Eat and dream of Paris!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cooking Week 19: 4 Ingredient Spanish Rice

One of my go-to meals fit in perfectly with this week's challenge of 5 ingredients or less.  I love making Spanish rice because its easy and I always have the ingredients in the house.

The 5 ingredients are:

1 lb of ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
1 can of diced tomatoes (standard size, 15 ounces ish)
1 cup rice (white or brown)

You start by browning the ground beef with the onions (salt and pepper beef as desired, these don't count as ingredients).

Add rice and mix.  Add can of tomatoes.  Add water as directed by package but just a little less to account for liquid in tomatoes.  For my brown rice it was just a little less than 2 cups of water.

Bring liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook as directed by rice package.  For this time it meant my brown rice had to cook for 50 minutes.

Serve and eat!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Cooking Week 18: Quinoa Salad

I DESPISE all dressings.  Either they are of the creamy sort, which I hate, or they have vinegar, which I also hate.  I still love salads though.  The deliciousness of the veggies are plenty for me, I don't need to drown them in some other flavor to enjoy them.  No matter how much I like them, however, it wouldn't be particularly exciting to post a picture of a plain green salad for salad week.  Instead I pulled out the box of Quinoa that's been sitting in my cabinet for at least 6 months waiting for me to work up the courage to try something new and came up with this:

I made the Quinoa according to the box's instructions but used chicken broth instead of water.  When it was cooked, I chilled it then threw in some other things.  I cooked and crumbled a few pieces of bacon, chopped up a tomato, shredded some asiago, drizzled some olive oil, and sprinkled some garlic on.  I shook it all up and ate it chilled and I am now a Quinoa fan.  Delish!!  I'm going to add more tomatoes in before I eat the leftovers, because I thought it could use a bit more.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cooking Week 17: Childhood Biscuits and Gravy

I am firmly entrenched in the Midwest, however my grandparents come from West Virginia and as such I grew up with a number of southern foods despite my physical location.  I absolutely love anything that involves biscuits.  My all time favorite meal that my grandmother makes is biscuits and underwater rice.  As no one else I currently eat with shares that love, however, I made my my second favorite grandma meal- Biscuits and Gravy.

I don't follow a precise recipe, but I start out by browning 1 lb. of spicy sausage (I like the kick but grandma uses regular)

Then I estimate how much fat is in the pan- this time I guessed 2 Tbsp. and add an equal amount of flour.  Whisk together and add 1 c. of milk for every 1 Tbsp of flour.  After I did this I determined that I wanted more gravy than what was there so I added 1 Tbsp. butter, 1 Tbsp. flour and another 1 cup of milk.  Stir all together and cook until it thickens.

Pour your gravy over your favorite biscuit recipe (or in my case quick Bisquick biscuits) and enjoy a taste of the south.