Monday, February 13, 2012

Lentils with chickpeas, black beans and a bacon vinaigrette

Talk about a protein powerhouse! Still-warm lentils, chickpeas, carrots and black beans are tossed with a light bacon vinaigrette and topped with crispy bacon crumbles.

First, fry 6 slices of center-cut bacon until crispy. Remove and place on a paper towel to cool. Reserve bacon drippings.


-1 tbs bacon drippings
-3 tbs olive oil
-2 tbs red wine vinegar
-2 tbs balsamic vinegar (try white balsamic for a twist)
-2 tbs "good" mustard (no fake yellow stuff!)
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp dried parsley

Whisk together the first 5 ingredients (through mustard) until well blended. Stir in oregano and parsley.


-1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked through
-3 cups water
-1 cup carrots, baby or regular, cut into small pieces
-1 bay leaf
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

Combine the first six ingredients (through pepper) in a medium or large sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop heat down low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until water is fully absorbed. Turn off heat, leave on the warm burner. Remove the bay leaf and add beans. Toss in the vinaigrette while still warm. Top with bacon crumbles right before serving.

Try serving it over rice, a small-grain pasta or couscous!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Feeling Crafty: Fun artwork for a kid's room

When a good friend was expecting her second child a few years back, she had to move her then-toddler into her "big girl room". I made these to hang on her wall, then made others for several other children in my life.

You will need:

-Large wooden craft letters
-A package of wooden craft circles
-Several yards of ribbon
-Craft paint in two colors, one light and one dark
-A drill with a 1/8" drill bit
-Medium sandpaper
-Wood glue (I prefer Gorilla Glue because it is pliable)
-A level

Drill holes in the top of the letters to thread the ribbon through - one hole for narrow letters and two for wide letters. Try to make them as even as possible!

Sand the area around the holes until they are smooth, check the letters for any rough spots and sand them as well.

Paint the tops and sides of the letters and let them dry for at least 4-6 hours. Same goes for the wooden circles.

Arrange the wooden circles around the letters in whatever pattern makes you happy. Glue them into place and let dry overnight.

Now for the tough part: making it all level. This is totally trial-and-error. Decide the distance you want between the hook on the wall and the top of the letter. Spool the appropriate length of ribbon so that you are looping it through the hole, then cut and tie so that the bow is on top up by the hook. It's important that you not cut the ribbon until you know how much you will need! Repeat for each letter, starting from the center and working your way out. Use the level to be sure that the letters with two holes hang evenly.

Feeling Crafty: Wine Bottle Lamp

How fun is this lamp? I was inspired to make it by a client who gave me a decorated version last year.

You will need:

-Wine bottle (the one pictured above is a magnum-sized bottle from Sam's Club that used to contain Riesling)
-Short string of Christmas lights
-Glass drill bit (use one wide enough that you can string the lights through it)

Wash the bottle well and remove the label (or leave it, if it floats your boat).

Using the glass drill bit, drill a hole towards the bottom of the bottle (make sure it isn't at the very bottom, because the glass will be thicker and more difficult to work with). This process can take awhile, because you have to stop and let the glass cool down periodically.

Leaving the male and female plugs on the outside of the bottle, thread the lights up through the hole and up into the bottle. You can help arrange them in the bottle by uncoiling a wire clothes hanger, leaving a tiny hook at one end, and reaching down through the neck to pull the lights up.

Wipe down the outside of the bottle to remove finger prints and voila!

For those of you out there who are comfortable working with electrical wire:

Remove the female plug from the string of lights with wire cutters and cap off the ends with parts you can buy from any hardware store. Then, install a rocker switch along the cord so you can flip it on and off, instead of having to unplug and plug it into the wall.