Friday, October 28, 2011

Pure Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes

Happy Friday!  I don't know about you, but it's been a long week and I am so happy to see the weekend.
On Wednesday, 33 Shades of Green was Bloggers "Blog of Note".  Wow.  Thank you Blogger!  Welcome to all of you who are new followers and stopped by to check out 33 Shades of Green.  I'm really glad you're here! 
A couple of weeks ago I posted about the weekend trip  I took up North (in Michigan) wine tasting.  This is the second part of the trip - the beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes.
In August, Sleeping Bear Dunes was voted the Most Beautiful Place in America, by Good Morning America.  And, I have to agree, it is breathtaking.  It's been a few years since I was up to SBD, so it was nice to have another chance to enjoy it.

The drive from Traverse City, where we spent the night, over to the Dunes was just beautiful.  Fall color was a week or two away from peak, but it was still gorgeous.

First stop was at the visitors center to pick up a map.
All of my photos are from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive area of the park.  It is a 7.4 mile drive through the forest and dunes with several spots to park the car and get out and walk around. 

The first stop overlooks Glen Lake.  So pretty.

The next photos are all from the Lake Michigan Overlook.  The overlook is 450 feet above Lake Michigan and it's steep - almost straight down!  Lots of people actually climb down to the bottom and then have to come all the way back up.



{ my always stylish Baby Sister }

{ me & Mom }

In this same area there is a boardwalk that leads to some really pretty look-outs.

This awesome pic courtesy of Baby Sister:

After Sleeping Bear Dunes, we made a stop in the city of Glen Arbor, home of Cherry Republic and then also at a lighthouse.

That concludes our tour of Sleeping Bear Dunes - I hope you enjoyed it!

I'm going to work on my pillow + invisible zipper + piping tutorial this weekend and hope to have it up soon.  Enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Artichoke & Spinach Stuffed Shells

Welcome to Tasty Tuesdays!
I loved this pasta dish.  Loved it.  It is one of the best things I have cooked in awhile.  The ricotta cheese sauce might seem like it would be heavy, but it wasn't at all.   And the white wine added an amazing flavor - do not skip it!  And while we are on the topic of wine, I am not a white wine drinker, so I like to keep little single size servings of white wine in my pantry for recipes that call for it. 
{ Recipe adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe shared on Bon Appetit }
Ingredients for Shells:
18 - 20 jumbo pasta shells (approximately half of a 12-ounce box)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped small
12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
- 5 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup (1-1/2 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Sauce:
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used skim and it worked just fine)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook shells according to package directions.  Drain and toss with a dash of olive oil to keep from sticking.  Set aside for now.

2.  Melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook it until it turns nutty and brown.  Stir occasionally to keep the butter moving on the bottom of the pan. Once it is a nice brown, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, then the onions and cook them until they are lightly brown and caramelized.  This should take 5 - 7 minutes.  Let me tell you this smelled amazing!

3.  Add the artichoke hearts and spinach and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it completely disappears.
4.  Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly.  Add cheese, the yolks, lemon juice, salt and black pepper and stir until combined.  Cover and set aside while you make the sauce.

5.  Time to make the sauce: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the flour all at once and whisk it until smooth. Add the milk, a small amount at a time. Whisk constantly so no lumps form. Once the mixture has reached a batter-like consistency, you can begin adding the milk in larger pours at a time, whisking the whole time. Once all the milk is added, add the garlic and bring the sauce to a boil, stirring frequently. Once boiling, it will immediately begin to thicken. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for two to three minutes before stirring in the ricotta, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Adjust salt, pepper and lemon to taste.

6.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour two cups of sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Scoop some of artichoke filling inside each cooked shell.  Nest each pasta shell in the sauce, seam up.  Pour remaining sauce over shells. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Then remove the foil and bake it for a final 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley or basil, if desired, and serve immediately.

Like I said, I loved this dish!  It was delicious.

What did you cook this week?

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Butterfly Art from Cottage & Vine

Happy Friday friends!  I have another wonderful project to share with you.  Rene from Cottage and Vine is here sharing her butterfly art.  Cottage and Vine is a home decor blog full of inspiring projects and ideas.  It's been a daily read of mine for a long time.  I always look forward to Rene's posts!

Hello to all of Alissa's readers!  I am Rene from the blog Cottage & Vine.  Alissa invited me here to be a guest today so thought that I would share one of my recent butterfly projects with you.

I used unfinished shadow boxes from AC Moore that I bought with a coupon.  The must have cost around $5 after the coupon.  I primed and sprayed them with a can of glossy black on the exterior and white on the inside edges.  The inside backs were rough so I used spray adhesive to line the backs with white card stock.

These are the butterflies I used.  They are made of thin wood and are located in the scrap book section at Micheal's.  I think they were around $2 after the coupon.

I played around with several different arrangements, but finally settled on this one with the blues together and the yellows together.  They were attached to the shadow boxes using a hot glue gun.  The graphic pop of color is just what this little corner of the kitchen needed.

There you have it...thank you for inviting me over today Alissa!
What a great project - thanks for sharing Rene!  I have seen versions of butterfly art in home decor stores and they are quite pricey.  This is a great way to achieve the same look on a budget.  For more inspiring ideas, visit Rene at Cottage and Vine.
I have two more days to soak up the sun - I'm going to go get back to it!  See you next Tuesday with a recipe.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chiang Mai Dragon Pillow from hodge:podge

I have a special treat for you today.  Barbara from hodge:podge is here to share one of her beautiful projects.  If you haven't been to Barbara's blog you are really missing out!  hodge:podge is one of the first blogs I started to read after I started my own.  Barbara is one of the sweetest bloggers you will meet and her blog is full of wonderful projects for the home - all done on a budget.  I'm so happy to have her here today!

Thanks to Alissa for inviting me to guest post while she is away. I am thrilled and honoured as I have been a loyal reader of Alissa's blog from pretty much the beginning! She always has such amazing projects that are up my alley.

Alissa and I have a lot in common but one thing we both love to do is to sew. Recently she tackled sewing an invisible zipper, via email I told her how easy it really was. As she found it was! I too recently tackled my "invisible zipper phobia" on some juicy and gorgeous pillows after years of sewing

Recently I scored some absolutely delicious fabric memos of  Chiang Mai Dragon by Schumacher that I wanted to make into accent pillows. My only problem was that the company punched grommets into the fabric to discourage anyone from making something from the free memo. I guess it was their way to encourage you to fork out the $200/yard for the stuff! Always up for a challenge while using ingenuity and imagination, I managed to create two fantabulious pillows!

Had to get rid of the grommets somehow. 
Think. Think.

This was hard for me to cut this beautiful fabric. But it was necessary for me to work my magic.

A little piecing with a linen with a similar weight and colour along with some sumptuous navy velvet ribbon.


With the second piece of fabric I just cut out flowers from the above pillow scraps and appliqued them over the grommets.


The ever so fabulous invisible zipper....

There you have it.
Don't let a silly grommet stand in your way from having fabulous pillows.

Thanks again Alissa for having me guest post today. Hope you are having a fabulous time soaking up the sun.

Hop on over to my blog, hodge:podge,  if you want more frugal decor and DIY ideas! 


XO Barbara

Isn't that a beautiful pillow? Barbara came up with such a creative way to work around the grommet in her fabric memo.  Thank you Barbara for sharing this project with us!
To see more beautiful home decor projects and ideas, visit Barbara at hodge:podge.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

Welcome to Tasty Tuesdays!
I'm excited to have my sister here today sharing her shrimp tacos.  I've actually been wanting to make this recipe since she posted it on her blog, A Little Ditty.  Last week was a little hectic at work and getting ready for vacation, so I thought this would be the perfect opprotunity to have her come over and guest post.  Here she is...
I'm excited to be guest posting today!  I hope you guys like this recipe, it's become a favorite of mine and it's so easy to make.
I've been loving Chipotle Peppers lately! I've made everything from pulled pork to pasta salad using chipotle peppers, seems like P Dubs is in a chipotle mood lately too, two of my recipes came from her! I found this awesome recipe for Shrimp Tacos and the real kicker to them is the chipotle and sour cream sauce. It takes the tacos to a whole other level! These are very simple to make, here's the lowdown:

- Frozen Raw Shrimp, amount can be variable, figure 4-5 shrimp per taco
- 2 limes
- Old Bay seasoning, Pepper, Jane's Krazy Salt, Chili Powder
- One small chipotle from can, minced
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Corn tortillas
- Cabbage shredded or prepackaged coleslaw mix
- Avocado and guacamole seasoning, optional
Begin by thawing the shrimp, this can easily be done by soaking in cold water for 5-8 minutes. When the shrimp are defrosted, pat dry and sprinkle the seasoning on them, you can be generous with your seasoning! I like them spicy personally, so I load on the spices.

Set the shrimp aside for a moment so you can put the sauce together. Mix the sour cream, chipotle pepper and juice from half a lime in a bowl. (At this point I whip up the guacamole as well, that is completely optional though, I am just a guacamole freak and eat it with every meal possible!) Now set this aside and heat a skillet for cooking the shrimp.

The shrimp will cook fast (about 3-4 minutes each side or less), when they are almost done sprinkle more fresh lime juice over them.

Now, time to assemble the tacos. I put a little of the special chipotle sauce and guac.

Don't those tacos sound delicious?  Thanks so much for sharing your recipe with us Baby Sister!  Stop over and visit her at A Little Ditty.
And now it's your turn.  What did you cook this week?
Party Rules:

1.  Please add a link in your post back to this post
2.  Add the Tasty Tuesday button to the post you are linking up.  You will find the button on my sidebar.


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