Monthly Archives: April 2013

Countdown to Cinco de Mayo: Spring Gazpacho with Fava Beans and Quick-Pickled Shrimp

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?  I think it’s funny that the celebration seems to have grown year after year, and I’m totally convinced it’s all about getting the average consumer to spend more.  But I don’t care.  I’m in.  Pour me a big fat margarita.

So this week will be all about Cinco de Mayo.  First up, gazpacho.  I know, I know.  Gazpacho is really a Spanish dish.  But I had all these lovely vegetables in my fridge, the star of which were some fresh fava beans.  So I am celebrating the Spanish influence on Mexican heritage with this gazpacho.  Plus, many of the veggies used were grown in Mexico.  So there you go.

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shelling #seekarencook #blog #annumography

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Have you ever prepared fava beans?  It’s a multi-step ordeal process.  First, you remove the beans from the pods.  Place the beans in a medium pan with boiling water and cook for about one minute.  Remove the beans and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking (and cool).

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Once the beans have cooled, you remove them from the waxy inner shell.

By the way, I love shrimp with gazpacho.  Inspired by this recipe, I decided that my version was begging for a quick-pickled shrimp or two.  You know how I love a good pickle.  I made a few substitutions, and the results are awesome!  Note: Do not decide to throw the sliced fresh jalapeno into the pickling liquid while it is coming to a boil.  I did this, and quickly poisoned the air in the kitchen.  The hubby and I couldn’t stop sneezing,coughing, and wheezing.  My throat and lungs still hurt.  Whoops!

Feel free to substitute other vegetables in this gazpacho.  Typically this soup is made with cilantro, but I used mint in its place.  Mint with fava beans is a favorite of mine, and I think it enhances the flavor of the beans in this soup.  I wish that had saved a few of the beans for garnish, because the green is such a pretty garnish against the tomato red soup.

You could also substitute tomato juice for the carrot juice if you prefer.  I used carrot, because I juiced it myself.

Some folks like to eat their gazpacho hot instead of cold.  To do this, just gently simmer the soup, instead of placing it in the refrigerator, until it is just heated through.

Spring Gazpacho with Fava Beans and Quick-Pickled Shrimp

Spring Gazpacho with Fava Beans:
1/2 c. fava beans, shelled
1 large tomato
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 green bell pepper, seeded
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 c. carrot juice
1/2 t. salt
2 T. olive oil
2 T. sherry vinegar
approximately 20 mint leaves

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  Place shelled fava beans in the boiling water and cook for about 1 minute.  Remove beans from boiling water, leaving the water in the pan, and place in an ice bath for about 5 minutes or until cool.  Remove from the ice water and drain.  Remove the cooked beans from their waxy shell.  Set aside.

Score the bottom of the tomato with criss-cross cuts and place it in the boiling water.  Allow to cook for 1 minute, then place in the ice bath.  When cooled, remove the tomato from the ice water and peel off the skin.  Remove the core and cut the tomato into chunks.  Place the tomato in a blender.

Cut the green pepper and cucumber into chunks, reserving about 1/4 cup of each, and place them in the blender with the tomato.  Dice the reserved green pepper and cucumber and set aside with the fava beans.

Add the remaining ingredients to the blender.  Blend the tomato mixture on the chop setting for about 30 seconds.  Check for desired consistency and pulse a few more times if desired.

Pour the tomato mixture into a bowl.  Add the fava beans and diced green pepper and cucumber, reserving some beans for garnish if desired.  Mix to combine, then cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours or overnight.

Quick-Pickled Shrimp
3 cups water
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
1 T. mustard seed
1 T. whole peppercorns
1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and matchstick sliced
1 t. sucanat, or prefered sweetener
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced

Combine water, vinegar, mustard seed, peppercorns, ginger, and sucanat in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the shrimp and jalapeno slices.  Allow shrimp to marinate for at least 10 minutes, gently stirring twice.  Place shrimp and pickling liquid in a glass jar or bowl and cover.  Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

To serve, place gazpacho in a bowl.  Place 2-3 pickled shrimp on top and garnish with reserved fava beans if desired.

Makes 4 servings.


The O.G. (Old Guest Room): Progress?

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118/365 closeting #365project #seekarenfix

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What’s this sad and boring picture, you ask?  Oh, just our unpainted guest room closet.  It’s primed and (mostly) painted now.  But since I finished in the near-dark, I don’t have an “after” shot to show you yet.

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that we may not be crossing many items off the list as we get into the more time-consuming tasks of our guest bedroom project.  And then last week, I forgot to publish the list.  I guess it doesn’t matter, because it hasn’t changed much…as predicted.

  1. Move everything back out of the room
  2. Fix the plate for the light fixture/ceiling fan
  3. Repair and sand the plaster on the ceiling and walls
  4. Putty and sand the trim moldings
  5. Paint the ceiling, trim and walls
  6. Install the custom closet
  7. Sand and stain the floors
  8. Hang the ceiling fan
  9. Hang the curtains and blinds
  10. Move everything back into the room

What didn’t make the list:

  • Spending four hours at Home Depot while finding and ordering a new custom front door…and not because we are too choosy.  Did I mention that this is our second attempt at ordering after our second door measurement in two weeks?  (details to come in a future post)
  • More patching and sanding (which seemed like a never-ending job)
  • Hanging out with my nephews and niece (all work and no play make Karen a dull girl)
  • Installing a new service door on our detached garage (the hubby is beaming with pride)
  • And the usual weekend going’s ons

Whew!  I’m (almost) happy to be back at the 9-to-5 today.  Did you get a lot accomplished this weekend too?

SeeKarenFollow: This Week

I’m feeling like a rabbit in Wonderland (I’m late, I’m late!) with this post.  I’ve been catching up with myself after having a week full of down-time from sinus headaches and such.  But sick is boring, so let’s see what else I did on Instagram this week.

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112/365 haughty #365project #dogsofinstagram

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It rained.  A lot.  I learned this morning that we will likely break the Indiana state record for wettest April.  Did you read that?  WETTEST APRIL.  Because an ordinary April isn’t wet enough, spring showers and all.  Anyway, this naughty little girl (with inadequately wiped paws from all that mud that comes with the wettest April) jumped up on our bed, “dug” off most of the covers, and dirtied up our white sheets.  Sweet, isn’t she?

But I can’t stay mad.  Look how sweet both pups are as they keep me company in bed on Friday.  Yes, I said both.  That’s Buddy in the foreground, but look carefully at the reflection in the mirror.

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side piece

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In the meantime, we are still making progress on our guest bedroom re-do.  Yesterday, though, we spent most of the afternoon replacing an old, broken-down door on our old garage.  It was just too pretty to stay indoors.  I got the chance to soak up some much needed sun.  My hubby beams with pride at his new door every time he looks outside.  Everybody wins.

Not so many pics this week, but more down-time means more web time and pins on Pinterest.

  1. I will be using this tutorial for a floating art frame today to frame an odd-sized print for my hubby’s new office.
  2. Still can’t get over the idea of plastering a map on just about anything?  Then these awesome chairs are for you.
  3. Have a fabric pattern that you love and want to show off?  This cloth-covered wreath shows you how.  And the flower tutorials are a bonus!
  4. This chevron canvas tote is inspiring another Sharpie project for me.
  5. How cute is the idea for these paper earrings?  I have so many paper stock scraps just waiting for a project like this.
  6. The best thing about these diagonal color-block t-shirts, except how gorgeous they are, is that you have two new fun shirts when you finish.
  7. Will someone please pour me on of these chipotle whiskey sour?  Not right now, but later today at a more appropriate cocktail hour?
  8. I think this Greek quinoa salad would be great served warm or cold.
  9. When you look at my recipe pins on Pinterest, you can see that I love a good gluten-free dessert idea.  This gluten-free apple tart is going on the list.
  10. I am absolutely intrigued by this Mexican Cacao, Rice & Amaranth drink.  Aren’t you?

Make the most of your Sunday!  I’m on my way to do the same.

Que Sera Sera Pear-Sage Margarita

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Question: When your cocktail is too good to not share, but the only pictures you have are crap, do you still post the recipe?

My hubby was making his guacamole last night, and so margaritas were in order.  But I couldn’t get this Pear Nectar with Reposado Tequila cocktail out of my head.  And I had pears that I wanted to juice before our Green BEAN Delivery arrives tomorrow.

While I juiced, I considered my mix options.  I had the last of a batch of sage simple syrup in the fridge.  Would that work?  Could I still call this drink a margarita?  Since I was skipping the orange liqueur with this fruit-flavored cocktail, adding the sweetness of the syrup balanced by the herbal sage sounded just about right.  (And I just lost the margarita purists, didn’t I?)  Decision made, I also determined to use lemon in place of lime juice for a better flavor combination.

The result?  Yum!  But as I said before, the picture is anything but great.  Normally I would whip up another batch and take more pictures (err, not that I make a habit of this), but I had no more pears.  I can almost hear Doris Day in the background singing Que Sera Sera.

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Pear-Sage Margarita

6 oz. pear juice
1 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
3 oz. tequila
1 oz. sage simple syrup (recipe here)

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir.  Pour over ice and garnish with a lemon twist or wedge, as desired.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Fruit Kabobs with Honey-Ginger Sour Cream Dip

Sometimes I hesitate to share a recipe, because it seems too simple to even be given that label.  But this Honey-Ginger Sour Cream Dip is just so dang good, I can’t help myself.

I used fruit that I had on hand (pineapple and strawberries), but this dip would be good with just about any fruit that I can imagine.  Oh, and if you can get your hands on toasted coconut marshmallows for your kabob, do.  They are excellent with the sweet-tart fruit and creamy spiced dip.

Honey-Ginger Sour Cream Dip

1 c. sour cream
1 T. raw honey
1 t. fresh orange peel, finely grated
1/4 t. ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2-4 hours to allow flavors to fully develop.

Kabob.  Isn’t that a fun word?

The O.G. (Old Guest Room): Sanding Everything that Doesn’t Move

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project boards

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The hubby celebrated the gorgeous weekend by staying indoors and sanding every surface in the guest room.  I went shopping stayed out of his way.  Sanding — though the biggest, most tedious job in our project — isn’t very photogenic.  I did manage to take this picture, while we did more shopping.  They are the future shelves and back to the armoire, which I will be refurbishing.  (In case you thought that I was shirking all tasks in this guest room project.)

OG Layout


I also spent some time in MS Excel mapping out the future room layout.  Have you ever used Excel for this?  I find it much simpler than some software tools meant for layout.

Resize Column

I just resize my rows and columns so that the cells are square.  I do this by selecting the columns I want to resize and then right-clicking to display the menu options.  I select Column Width from the menu window and then enter a number.  This part is guesswork, and I usually just play around with the width measurement until it looks the way I want it.  I then repeat the same steps for the rows to make the cells (grid) square.

Once I have my grid pattern in place, I define a single cell as one square foot.  I use borders to outline the dimensions of the room and closets.  I then insert the line shape to indicate doors and rectangles for the windows.  More inserts are used for the furniture.

OG Layout

Unfortunately, the headboard of the bed will partially block one of the windows.  In this room, it is unavoidable.  Directly across from the bed is the armoire that I mentioned before. It’s an old TV armoire from Pier One, and it is black with distressed red edges.  Not sure how that’s going to fit into the colors I had in mind for the room.  We shall see.

Under the other window is a small writing desk, and on the wall directly opposite will go one of my three sewing machines.  Yes, that’s right.  And ask me how much sewing I’m doing these days….

The closet is a fairly good size.  I bought some Martha Stewart modular closet pieces to make it more custom.  The other closet, labeled future bathroom, is a once-bathroom-now-turned-storage-closet-by-former-owners. Did you follow that?  We are looking forward to turning it back into a bathroom, especially since our home only has a single bathroom right now.  It will be wee, but we can be creative.  I’m dreaming of modern, streamlined European fixtures.    Dreaming.

Oh, and that big green thing in the corner.  I have no idea what will go there.  But I’m staying positive and calling it my opportunity to do something fun.  Aren’t guest bedrooms where you can decorate more for fun than practicality?

What would you do to fill up that big empty corner?




SeeKarenFollow: This Week

I was a post or two short this week, so much happened that it was a blur.  Let’s catch up on Instagram.

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BIG DAWG #dogstagram

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With our guest room remodel, we have been shifting furniture all over the second floor of the house.  The ‘dog couch’ in the craft room, however, has remained in place.  Much to Greta’s delight.

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105/365 cherry #365project

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I’m taking a lot of joy from all the trees and flowers that are now blooming.

Buddy, though, is not so fond of the April showers that bring May flowers.  Here he is glued to my side during one of a few thunderstorms that we experienced last week.  Greta was just as close on my other side, making me a doggie sandwich.

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109/365 spring clean #365project

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So when I wasn’t trapped on the couch between two dogs, I was cleaning out closets and drawers.  How is it that a project in one room results in so many other projects?  I know I’m not alone here.

The good news is that more couch time meant more time for pinning.

  1. If we weren’t replacing the back stairs with a small powder room, I would definitely be using this idea of putting wallpaper samples on the stair risers.
  2. Yes, I am an adult.  I am!  That doesn’t stop me from wanting these Super Mario pillows and this superhero comic book pillow in my living room.  Geek chic.
  3. I told Glamorous Mommy that I am totally stealing this chalkboard art idea, since I have these exact Target prints.
  4. I just finished my own cookbook bird house, but now I want another one, or three, like these road map bird houses.
  5. Some one serve me up one, or three, of these lemon vodka slushies.
  6. Yum!  I think that I could eat this warm salad with all the Spring produce superstars weekly.
  7. I am so making a gluten-free version of this Ploughman sausage and cheese pie.
  8. Mother’s Day will be here in a flash.  This handwritten recipe tea towel would make a lovely gift.
  9. Of course, flowers in this gold-dipped vase is a sure hit too.
  10. And if you aren’t feeling crafty, support other crafty artisans with a gift like this family tree pillow.

Have a splendid weekend!  I have thrift shopping and room remodeling on my agenda.