Saturday, August 29, 2009

From the Kitchen: Calzones

Mmmm... not sure how I've managed to make it this far into my adult life without making a calzone. But now I have, and I'm planning to make a habit of it. The gooey mozzarella, warm bready aroma and tangy vegetables really hit the spot on a cool, rainy evening.


Making a calzone is so easy I'm not including a recipe! The basic steps are:

  1. Make any old pizza dough (I used the recipe in my bread machine manual)
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Split the dough into as many pieces as you want calzones and stretch into 10" circles (each piece should be large enough to be easily stretchable without any holes forming)
  4. Cram in all the fresh garden goodness you can
  5. Add cheese and meat and sauce, if you want
  6. Fold into a half moon shape and pinch the edge to seal
  7. Rub with olive oil and bake until the top is a golden brown
  8. Eat!
Way too easy and delectable not to become a family favorite...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Feature Friday: The Peach Tree

Where to start? I just love the work of Amy from The Peach Tree. Her Brooklyn-based Etsy shop is chock full of semi-precious gemstone beauties, and her photos really capture the depth of interest shimmering in each of her pieces. I've been a long-time fan of her shop and I'm so happy to share her with you today!


I think part of the true brilliance of her creations are that they are delightfully simple... fully allowing the beauty of the materials to shine through the design. Wire wrapped gemstone pendants, stacked briolette bracelets and potato pearl earrings in a rainbow of colors... all with free worldwide shipping!


Looking solely at her sales record and the regularity of her front page features (too many to count!), clearly she has captured her niche in the wonderful world of Etsy. I'm so happy to have met her! She's terribly good-hearted, helping to organize and publicize Etsy Project Embrace for fellow Etsian and cancer survivor Laura Slocum. She also donates some work to Etsy for Charity and is really such a sweet person it would be hard not to love her!


All images © The Peach Tree 2009, All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Get Crafty: A New Etsy Tutorial to Make Your Own Fabric Labels

Ever wondered if you could make your own fabric labels? Well, you certainly can... Even better, they're cheap, easy and fast! Handmade, personalized labels are perfect for labeling store-bought garments with names or phone numbers, for personalizing handmade gifts, or (perhaps best of all) for branding your Etsy or Artfire shop!


Just a few weeks ago, at the request of another curious Etsian, I made a wonderfully simple tutorial on how to make your very own fabric labels. Washable, no-fray, printed labels that you can make yourself in the quantity you need for a fraction of the cost of buying them already made. I also created three basic but fully customizable templates in Microsoft Word that are included... choosing the right type and designing your labels is a breeze.


They are inexpensive! I estimate the cost to be less than 3 cents per finished label when I make them. They're easy! All required products are easily found locally and online. No sealing individual edges! No ironing onto twill tape! And they're quick! I made about 280 labels from start to usable finish in less than an hour!


The tutorial has sold very well so far, and the abundant feedback has been completely positive. People who have used the tutorial have been really grateful for the knowledge and so pleased with the fantastic results. I'm so happy to have found a way to share this process with other crafters interested in saving time and money without sacrificing quality or professionalism. Get crafty!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Feature Friday: Anderson Soap Company

It didn't take too long on Etsy to realize that the Portland-based Anderson Soap Company was a smashing success. With artful presentation and a huge variety of products, Dennis Anderson is a full time Etsian with a passion for spa-like indulgence. His business savvy inspires my own efforts on a regular basis, and I think his current achievement of nearly 20,000 sales on Etsy makes his shop something worth emulating.


I have recently been on a shaving soap kick and just had to try some of his creations. I ordered two shaving bars... one shea butter and bentonite clay variety with a Coolwater scent (yeah, I like manly aromas... shoot me!) and a wheat germ London black variety. In addition to being on sale for the weekend, they arrived quickly and smell wonderful, but not too strong as to overpower my everyday perfume. Rich lather, invigorating aroma, silky feel, no shaving nicks... absolute perfection!


Dennis makes many other products including body washes, lip balms, body scrubs and so much more. Check out his shop for some great gift ideas for the spa-enthusiast (or wannabe) in your life, or just something to make shaving more pleasant. Happy Friday!


All images ©Dennis Anderson 2009, All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

From the Kitchen: Dominick-Inspired Sangria

I live just south of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. I grew up around here, went away for college, then moved back to get married and make babies, among many other, less notable things. Ann Arbor is home to Dominick's, a classic collegiate establishment that offers a mean sangria along side its menu of more solid and less noteworthy accompaniments. The sangria, served over ice in a mason jar, as Nature intended, is to be consumed in the open air of a patio with friends and good conversation. It's an experience unto itself, and one that I have long wondered how to create in a more domestic environment.


A good friend tipped me off to a fair imitation recipe on another blog, so I looked it up and just made my first humungous batch. After imbibing a meager 4 ounces, I am happily typing away with clumsy fingers that attest to its efficacy on an empty stomach. I am also realizing that I should have done the research part of this post prior to beginning the taste-testing part, because my mind is going numb faster than I anticipated. Moderation, dear friends, is key to avoiding the dreaded sangria-hangover... a feeling purported to be quite regrettable.

Sangria is a traditional Spanish drink involving red wine, brandy and fresh fruit. It is typically mixed and chilled overnight as an uncooked combination to let all the flavors intermingle. I made a syrup with the fruit for this recipe to cut the pulp factor, but you can make it in so many ways to whatever preferences you may have. There is also a white sangria version made with white wines and peaches or nectarines, if you prefer. Dominick's serves another drink called Constant Buzz which I suspect is a version of Sangria Blanco, but haven't looked for that recipe yet.

You can check the original posted version, but this is the method I used to make sangria with what I had around and to my anti-pulp preferences... it was a success, if I may say so.

Ingredients:

1.89 L (2 qt) cranberry juice
2 cups sugar
Citrus fruit, cut up (I used one lime, two lemons and two oranges)
1 cup brandy (really cheap brandy is fine)
750 mL Manischewitz kosher wine, Concord Grape flavor
4.5 L red wine (anything you have around; if its dry wine, add more sugar)


Directions:

Mix the juice, sugar and cut fruit in a very large pot. This is the pot I used (on a very different day), so you can see just how big is ideal:


Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat. Simmer for about 45 minutes to reduce to a thicker syrup (maybe to around 2 L volume). Remove from heat. Strain the mixture to remove rinds and pulp (feel free to leave it in if you enjoy eating your beverage). Cool. In your giant pot, pour in all remaining ingredients and the cooled syrup and stir well. Put it back in the wine bottles and refrigerate, or call up every friend you have to drink it if you don't have room. Serve over ice... Enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

From the Kitchen: Blueberry Raspberry Muffins

This is a recipe I adapted from Gale Gand's Double Blueberry recipe from the book "Butter Sugar Flour Eggs". I found the original on FoodTV.com and it seemed like the perfect fit for my fresh blueberries. The kids loved them as did my husband, and I'll readily admit that, while they did no favors for my weight loss efforts, they really turned out better than I had expected.


Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the cups of a muffin tin with paper liners. In a mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sugar and mix. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt and mix. Add the raspberry preserves to the batter and mix.

With the mixer running at low speed, add 1/2 of the flour, then 1/2 of the milk, and mix. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Fold in the whole blueberries by hand until well mixed. In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the muffins. Bake until golden brown and risen, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan at least 30 minutes before turning out.


The aroma of the cooling muffins was heavenly. Warm, fruity, slighly spicy. And dressed like that, it was just asking for trouble...