Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spicy Tomato Pasta + Mussels

I love mussels.

Seriously, mussels rock.

Not only are they a delicious seafood/shellfish, but they are cheap, they are easy, and for some reason we all see them as fancy.

Now that's a home run.

Mussels are super popular at restaurants lately, big bowls of them with beautiful broth and salty, crunchy frites, or in a soft tomato broth with pasta or bread. I think we often don't realize what a great at-home item mussels are, since they're not always at the local grocery store, but oh man.

So going back to why they rock, first of all, they're cheap. I mean, really, really cheap. Cheaper than any fish. I picked up a pound at Costco for $5. And even at someplace like Whole Foods, they're maybe $6 a pound. And a pound is a LOT of mussels!

Now they're also easy. How easy? Make some sort of broth/sauce. Add mussels. Put top on. Take top off 5 minutes later. Done.

Have I gotten you hyped up enough about mussels yet??


Recipe time.

Spicy Tomato Pasta with Mussels
we made this up too -- do you see a trend here?

- Olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 shallot, diced
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced, save greens separate from whites
- 2 medium tomatoes, rough chop
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Pepper
- 1 lb mussels

For this recipe, you'll want to use a large, deep pan with a lid. I used this one:

Put some olive oil in the pan (1 tbs or so) and put on medium-high heat. Once it's warm, add the shallots, garlic, and the white part of the green onions to the pan. Sautee for a couple minutes. Then, add the tomatoes and stir for 1-2 minutes. Next add the white wine, chicken stock, and red pepper flakes (to taste). Bring to a simmer and put the top on for 5-10 minutes.

Remove lid, and add mussels. Do not add any mussels that are not shut tight. If they are open at all, they are dead and not good. Spread the mussels out and put the lid back on. Keep at medium heat for 5-7 minutes.

Remove lid, and all mussels should have opened and cooked. If there are any unopened mussels, discard them. Sprinkle the remaining chopped green parts of the green onion over top.

Serve over pasta, and be happy :)


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mod Podged Paper Mache Letters

Alright, now that I did the teaser post for the Chicago Craft Social and also the post recapping the day, time to actually share the project with you!

Paper mache letters are great because they're lightweight and hollow, are three-dimensional, and can either stand on their own or stick to a wall with just a little tacky putty.

Not to mention, you can paint them, Mod Podge them, glitterize them, or basically whatever you want!

I got my paper mache letters at Paper Source.

Paper Mache Letters 1

I decided to get a lower case c and k (me and the hubs) and an upper case P (last name). I also picked up some pretty cream and silver papers while I was there!

Now here's where the Mod Podging comes in. For these letters, I wanted them entirely covered as seamlessly as possible. And as you know when working with paper and curves and corners, that's pretty difficult.

I started by cutting a rectangle just bigger than my letter. I brushed Mod Podge directly onto the paper mache letter, then flipped it upside down and pushed it down onto the paper. I then used my fingers to work out all the bubbles, and trimmed around the letter so there was approximately 1/2 inch around the whole thing. Then, at every curve, corner, and crevice, I cut a slit in the paper.

Paper Mache Letters 2

The more slits, the better. This way, when you Mod Podge the sides down, they will lay perfectly and the front will be seamless.

Paper Mache Letters technique

Once you've done the front, cut a long strip of paper to go around the sides and cover all the slits and folded over parts from the front piece. Make sure this piece is wider than the side, because just like the front, you will adhere it and cut slits all in the edges to make it fold over the back. This way, when it's on the wall, it will look like it perfectly wraps around the whole letter.

Letter k

Once it's dry, add another coat of Mod Podge to the top to seal it all. Then hang on the wall with a little tacky putty, and enjoy!

Letters all

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chicago Craft Social

Yesterday I had the pleasure of leading a craft table at the Chicago Craft Social, and let me tell you, I had a blast!!

I hosted a table sponsored by Plaid (thanks Mod Podge Amy!) where we used Mod Podge, paint, glitter, fabric, and paper to decorate paper mache letters for our homes. If you remember, I did a little teaser post here.

Well, let me tell you: there were some incredibly crafty women there! I had such a fun time helping people learn to use Mod Podge while watching their creativity unfold.

First of all, I have to mention the venue. The Social was held at Catalyst Ranch in the West Loop of Chicago, and I have to say, this is the coolest venue I have ever seen. Super eclectic, funky, and colorful, it was the perfect spot for crafting!

blog 3 catalyst ranch chicago

blog 4 catalyst ranch chicago

blog 5 catalyst ranch chicago

blog 6 catalyst ranch chicago

My table was all set up and ready with a sign, paper mache letters, and all the paint, Mod Podge, and brushes I could ever need!

blog 1 paper mache letters

blog 2 craft social

Once the doors opened, there was a flood of women of all ages filling every seat in the place. And let me tell you, the women I had at my table were amazing! Some used fabric...

blog 7 craft social

Some used paint...

blog 8 craft social

And one girl even found an old Charlie Brown book in the scrap pile and used the characters to create a Peanuts R!

blog 12 craft social

And the finished products were just so cute.

blog 9 craft social

blog 11 craft social

blog 10 craft social

blog 13 craft social

Everyone had a fantastic time, and I was so happy I could be a part of it!

Another great part was catching up with great crafty friends, like Candie Cooper!

blog 15 candie cooper craft social

And of course, the woman who founded it all and is just a pleasure to work with, Amanda Edwards. She followed her dream of hosting a huge Chicago-wide crafting social event, and now each one is bigger and more amazing than the one before it!

blog 16 craft social

Thanks so much to everyone who came out and enjoyed the day with me! It was a blast!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ideas + Inspirations :: Where did March go?

Seriously, where did March go? This month seems to have flown by!

Then again, I suppose the birthday extravaganza was a fun distraction :)

But with all the distractions, the {ideas & inspirations} post has sadly fallen by the wayside. Time for a comeback!

ideas and inspirations

I just love this pillow from Sukan Art on Etsy. There are tons of adorable pillow covers, and I'm just swooning over them all! We're buying new couches soon, and I think I might have to pick one or two of these up.

This is the gosh-darn cutest Easter egg yarn wreath I have ever seen. Trisha at The Sweet Survival shows the tutorial and it is just so easy. I might have to give it a try!

Erin at One Particular Kitchen shares her roasted red salsa recipe, and ohmygoodness it looks amazing. I love roasted salsas, and this one looks perfect. I can't wait to make it!

For Japan with Love

I think my biggest inspiration lately has been the outpouring of love and support for the people of Japan. There are wonderful handmade shop owners who are giving 100% of their profits to the relief effort, bloggers participating in a day of silence, and more. People are pouring out their love and support for the tragedy that has befallen this beautiful country. Though it's just a small effort, I will also be participating. For the month of April, 100% of the money I receive from sponsorships will go directly to the Red Cross. So if you're interested in sponsoring FW&MP and having your sponsorship money go directly to the relief fund, go here to learn more about becoming a sponsor.

What has been inspiring you lately?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Did you know that "Brussels sprouts" is the correct spelling of those little cabbage relatives? Yes, Brussels like the city. With an s at the end. Capitalized. Not "brussel sprouts" in the way that we all seem to pronounce it.

Ok, lesson over.

So I know a lot of people really, really don't like Brussels sprouts, and I will say, if they're not prepared well, they do have a particularly interesting taste. But Brussels sprouts get a bad rap. They can be sauteed or oven roasted, and often take on a great caramelized flavor. But did you know you can just eat them raw? I think most of us don't think of them that way because we always picture them cooked, but at the end of the day, it's in the cabbage family, and we eat cabbage raw and cooked. So why not Brussels sprouts?

One of my favorite uses for Brussels sprouts is to make a salad out of them. Using a mandolin, I slice up the sprouts and then toss them a bit to get all the leaf strips to separate. Cutting them this way makes the super-crunchy texture much more manageable than just pulling the leaves off and trying to eat the leaves.

Then, add your favorite toppings. One of my favorite combinations is reduced balsamic vinegar (reduced on the stove until the tanginess dissipates and you're left with a sweet balsamic syrup), olive oil, dried cranberries, serrano ham, and a nice hard aged cheese. The result looks super fancy, but at the end of the day it's just a simple salad!

Brussels sprouts salad

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chicago Craft Social + Me = Fun Time!

Did you know that the Chicago Craft Social is going on this weekend in Chicago?? I first told you about the social here, and let me tell you, it was a blast! I made a wire wrapped ring, screen printed my own tote bag, practiced some embroidering techniques, and more!

This upcoming craft social is going to have fun projects such as needle felting, beaded tote bags, ribbon embroidery, t-shirt headbands, and Mod Podging paper mache letters.

Wait, did I just say Mod Podge? In Chicago? Well gosh, who would be leading a Mod Podge table at a crafting event in Chicago?


That's right, yours truly will be there leading a fun project where we use Plaid products to decoupage, paint, and glitterize paper mache letters. I even did a sample of some for my home to bring along!

Letter k

Letters all

I'll do a full tutorial here on the blog after the craft social for everyone who doesn't live in Chicago and thus can't join me that weekend. However, if you live in the city or the 'burbs, you should come out!

This season's Craft Social is taking place this Saturday the 26th at Catalyst Ranch on 656 W. Randolf St. in Chicago. Tickets are $30, and that not only gives you access to all the supplies for whatever projects you want to make, but it also includes a fun goodie bag, light appetizers and beverages, and an overall fun time! You won't leave there empty-handed, that's for sure!

So come out, meet me, make some fun stuff, and have a great time! You can buy tickets here! Make sure you pick them up soon, they will sell out!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DIY Magazine Holder

Ever since we married and moved in together, there has been a growing stack of magazines on the back of the toilet. And ever since we married and moved in together, it has bugged me. This past weekend, I finally decided I had had enough; those magazines needed a home!

Sure, I could probably pick one up at The Container Store for about $10, but where's the fun in that?

DIY Magazine Holder
made from a 12-pack box

Things you need:

1 12-pack beer/soda bottle box (not cans)
Packaging Tape
Mod Podge
Pretty Paper

Grab your box.

Magazine 1

Cut off the flaps, and cut it in half at the sides (the short ends).

Magazine 2

Slide one side into the other (you'll be surprised at how easily they fit in together) and use the packaging tape to secure the sides and bottom together. Also cut an angled curve off of one side to allow for viewing the magazines.

Magazine 3

Now grab some paper for the outside. For this project, I prefer the really large pieces of paper that can be wrapped all the way around for continuous coverage, but if you were doing a collage or mish-mash of paper, then size doesn't matter.

Magazine 4

Apply Mod Podge to one side of the cardboard holder, and press the paper down, working to get out all the bubbles.

Magazine 5

Work your way around the box until it is completely covered. Trim the ends of the paper so you can fold them down into the inside and underside of the box, and Mod Podge down.

Magazine 6

Now grab another complementing paper, and Mod Podge it to the inside of the box. This will cover up the ends of the outside paper, and will give a nice contrast to the inside. Since this will have magazines in it all the time, you don't have to go all the way to the bottom with the inside paper. Just halfway down or so will be fine since no one will see much further down than the top anyway.

Magazine 7

Finally, apply a topcoat of Mod Podge to the inside and the outside to seal the paper. You may have to do this in batches otherwise it will be hard to find a way for it to dry without it sticking to something!

Once it's dry, slide the magazines in, and enjoy!

Magazine 9


Monday, March 14, 2011

Honey Ginger Shrimp

Last week, I was so lucky to have my friend A.J. in town. This is the same A.J. who gave me the portable photo studio :) He was here on business, but was able to book his return flight for the next day so that he could come over and visit that night!

Now to give a little background, A.J. is such a good friend, in fact, that he stood on my side of the wedding party, as my bridesman.

KM & CP wedding day 047

And no, this was not at all influenced by that horrible Patrick Dempsey movie.

Anywho, I don't get to see him much since we live in separate states, but on the rare occasion he's in town, it's always a treat!

For this visit, we decided to stay in and cook a little, since his sales job often keeps him on the road. Upon looking in the freezer and seeing that I had shrimp, he quickly got super excited to do a recipe he's had a couple times before!

Honey Ginger Shrimp
adapted from Allrecipes

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
1 teaspoon honey
1 pound medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and honey; cook and stir until fragrant. Add the shrimp, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring as needed, until shrimp are pink and opaque. Serve immediately.

AJs shrimp

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Birthday Week Giveaway Winners!

Wasn't last week fun? I sure had a blast reading through some of your comments, from touching to downright hilarious! And now to the best part, the WINNERS!

birthday giveaway winners

Between the 6 giveaways, we had a total of 468 comments! WOW!

All winners were chosen randomly courtesy of If you would like to see a screenshot of all the randomness, click here (gotta keep me honest!)

Now let's get down to business!

The winner of the Craftee McGee giveaway is...

Annie from Eat. Dream. Repeat.!

winner 1

The winner of the Paint Me A Picture Giveaway is...

Danielle from Take Heart!

winner 2

The winner of the Mod Podge Giveaway is...

Wendy from Project Create!

winner 3

The winner of the Oh Sweet Joy Giveaway is...

Heather from Small Town Living!

winner 4

The winner of the Hiya Luv Giveaway is...

Sara B. of Yes, Teacher!

winner 5

And finally, the winner of the CSN $50 giftcard is...

Marissa of Cam&Rissa!

winner 6

All winners please shoot me an email at foodwineandmodpodge dot gmail dot com to claim your prizes! And thanks everyone for coming by last week to celebrate my birthday with me!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Date Night :: Scallops

Sometimes, Chris and I find ourselves wanting to get a little more adventurous in the kitchen, and decide to get some really good ingredients and stay in for the night. This past weekend, we found ourselves at Whole Foods, and they had some gorgeous scallops. So we snagged some up and went home to cook!

A couple things to talk about though before jumping into the recipe. First of all, the recipe calls for a cup of white wine. By no means should you use the best wine you can find (unless you really want to make this an unusually expensive dinner...) but when cooking, a good rule is not to use any wine you wouldn't drink to accompany the meal. Our favorite wine to use for cooking is Columbia Crest Two Vines Chardonnay. It's got good flavor, makes a great Tuesday-night bottle of wine, and is perfect for cooking.

blog Scallops 2

The next note I want to make is in regards to one other ingredient below: chicken base. Chicken base is a condensed paste that when added to water, creates chicken stock. I personally like it better than bouillon because bouillon is PACKED with sodium, but base is not. Also the first ingredient in base is chicken, which is more than I can say for those salty cubes. It can't be found everywhere, but I've seen it more and more places like spice shops and specialty food stores lately.

Also, Pioneer Woman uses it, so if you don't want to take my word for it, we can all take hers.

Pioneer Woman

Scallops with White Wine Sauce
we made this up

1 tbs olive oil
2 medium shallots
1 medium yellow onion
1 celery rib
1 cup white wine (chardonnay)
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 pinch white pepper
2 tsp chicken base
Lemon to finish

Dice the shallots, onion, and celery.

blog Scallops 1

Heat the oil in a pan, and then toss in the shallots, onion, and celery. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until they soften.

Add wine, red pepper flakes, white pepper, and chicken base.

blog Scallops 3

Bring it to a light simmer, and then turn your attention to the scallops. Rinse them and pat them dry with a paper towel. Wet scallops (or wet any meat for that matter) will not brown nicely.

blog Scallops 4

Get another non-stick pan and add some oil, bring to medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, set the scallops in. Cook them, undisturbed, for 2-3 minutes, then flip.

blog Scallops 5

Leave the scallops in the pan until they are brown on both sides and start to break apart slightly along the edge. Do not overcook them, or they'll be little rubbery discs.

Move the scallops over into your white wine sauce pan, squeeze a lemon slice over top, and serve!

blog Scallops 7

Don't forget, today's the last day of the Craftee McGee and Paint Me A Picture giveaways!