Thursday, May 14, 2009

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

Out of all the recipes I’ve tried, this recipe for peppers stuffed with orzo is by far my favorite stuffed pepper recipe. It’s simple, full of fresh ingredients, and freggin tasty.

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It's also a very nice vegetarian option. I’ve mentioned before that we like to eat vegetarian dinners some nights in my family. It’s a nice break from all the chicken we eat, and tends to get me thinking outside my cooking comfort zone. (If you hate vegetarian meals that feel like just a collection of vegetable side dishes as much as I do, then this is the recipe for you.)

This would also be a great date night meal. Served with a nice bread and a simple salad, you can’t go wrong.

FYI: If you do want to add some meat, some spicy sausage would be a great compliment to this. A can of black beans would probably be good as well. Even though the amount of garlic may seem like a lot, I think it’s perfect so don’t be shy.

Ingredients:

1 (14 ounce) can Italian stewed tomatoes
1 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
3/4 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
6 sweet bell peppers (red or yellow)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper



Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes. The orzo should be only partially cooked.



2. Meanwhile, slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up.



I also chop up the usable parts of the tops before I throw them away to add some extra flavor (not to mention less waste) but you don’t have to.

3. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and break apart using a pair of kitchen shears or your finger tips.



4. Add the zucchini, mint, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt/pepper, and the sweet pepper tops (if using) to the tomatoes. Stir to combine.





5. After the orzo has cooked for 4 minutes, use a fine mesh sieve to drain the orzo. Transfer the warm chicken broth to a baking dish.



As you can see, I just drained the orzo right into my baking dish. I decided to use a small brownie dish since I only made 4 stuffed peppers, but use whatever size you need.

6. Add orzo and the cheeses to the bowl of veggies and mix everything together.





7. Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth. Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers (I froze the extra filling). Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes.



8. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes.


And there you have it.

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It’s a little messy but super delicious. The red pepper flakes adds just the right amount of kick and the Pecorino Romano has a nice tanginess to it.

*Recipe adapted from Giada’s Everyday Italian.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Foam Core Picture Frames

This is a project I made for my last apartment. I was extremely broke and had a huge wall behind to fill.

My solution: foam core picture frames.

I know it sounds silly, but it turned out really well for what I was working with. In fact, I get a surprising amount of compliments on them.

Here's a pic (I pulled out one of the pictures so you could get a better idea):



What you'll need:

Foam board (I used three)
Xacto knife
Paint
Decorative paper or fabric

Directions:

1.Cut your foam board into a frame.

There’s really nothing complicated about this. I wanted mine specifically square, but you can make them any size or shape you want. (After you have the first one cut out, use it as a template for the rest.)

2.Once you have your frames cut out, cover them in any paper of fabric you like.

As you can see, I used foil and then dripped some red paint over the top.


The options are endless, so be creative.

3. Then all you have to do is tape the pictures to the frame.

I had copies made so I wasn't not too concerned with dust or anything, but you could tape a clear page protector to the frame and just slide the picture in if that's a problem for you.



4. Now I just nailed them straight to the wall, but you can use sawtooth hangers or sticky foam squares (the frames are super light).

Not too bad right?

In the last few years I've seen a ton more projects using foam. Not only is it inexpensive, but you can pretty much shape it into anything you want. This website has a bunch project ideas using foam products.

Here are some of the projects the have listed:



Makes me wish I had more wall space.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Canvas Clock DIY

I can't quite remember where I saw this idea for a canvas clock (probably on One Pretty Thing), but right away I knew the options were endless.



I had most items on hand (everything but the clock) so your end cost may be a little different then mine.

What you'll need:

A prepared canvas (whatever size you like)
Cheap clock or clock kit
Freezer or contact paper
Xacto knife
Fabric
Paint

Directions:

1. The first thing to do is find a clock you like. (This isn't the one I chose, but I plan to use it next time.)

If you want to use this image click on the picture to make it a little larger


2. Print it out. (I stretched mine to make it as large as I could and made it black and white.)

I then taped it ontop of my freezer paper and used it as a template to cut out my stencil. (Make sure you use a fresh xacto blade. It makes all the difference.)



3. The next step is to cover your canvas with whatever fabric you've decided to use. You could also paint the canvas or use decorative paper. Whatever you like.

All I used was a little spray glue and some duct tape around the edges.



4. I attached the freezer paper stencil to my fabric using an iron. (It only takes a little heat and always remember to put the shiny side down.)



5. Paint in the stencil. (It took me about 4 layers to get the paint completely opaque and I dried each layer with a hairdryer before painting the next.)



Instead of fabric paint I just used one of the 99 cent acrylic paints you find in the wood craft section. You can use whatever you like though.



As you can see my fabric didn't cover all my edges. I really wanted to use this specific fabric, so I just glued a piece of white ribbon around the outside. I recommend just getting the right size fabric though.



While I was at Ikea I picked up this clock because it only cost $3 dollars. I'm not sure how much clock kits cost, but I figured I wouldn't be able to beat Ikea's price.



6. Take apart your clock (take not of what order the hands were placed). Make a small hole in the center of your painted section (or where ever you want your clock) with your xacto knife.



The all you have to do is attach the clock motor to the back of your canvas. I duct taped mine (if you haven't figured out yet I'm kind of a fan of duct tape) but you can also use a strong glue to hold it in place (I'm sure E600 would work).

At this point you may need to make your hole a little bigger. That's fine.



Once the motors in place, all you have to do is put the hands on, put in a battery, and you're good to go.

Keep in mind you can paint the hand whatever color you like (I haven't done so yet).



I'm not entirely happy with my fabric choice in the end, but I still think it's a cool idea. Next time I hope to paint my one back round and maybe even forgo the stencil. We'll see :)