Category Archives: Inspiration

Indi-Mexi-Italian Fusion: Mint Pumpkin Seed Pesto

149/365 Indi-Mexi-Italian fusion: mint pumpkin seed pesto #365project #seekarencook

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I have yet to meet a chutney that I didn’t love, but mint chutney is on my must-have list.  Like ketchup is a must with hot, crispy crinkle-cut French fries.  So one would think that when I had both mint and cilantro in my fridge, whipping up a mint chutney would be a no-brainer.  Right?

Right.  Except that I was craving pesto with lots of olive oil and served up with a gluten-free crostini.  Especially after I found this  pumpkin seed pesto recipe from Flourishing Foodie.  My idea was to replace the fresh sage with cilantro to up the Mexi-flavor.

farmer's cheese crumbles over mint pumpkin seed pesto with sesame blues chips | annumography.wordpress.com

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And then I did what I do and married all of these ethnic flavors into one kick-butt fusion pesto.  I crumbled farmer’s cheese over the top and served it up with Sesame Blues.  You could also stir this pesto into cooked pasta or rice, spread it on a sandwich, whisk it with vinegar for a salad dressing, or mix it into a compound butter.  The fusion flavors just make it that much more versatile.

149/365 Indi-Mexi-Italian fusion: mint pumpkin seed pesto #365project #seekarencook

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Mint Pumpkin Seed Pesto

3/4 c. pepitas
1 c. fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 c. fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil, or to taste
1/2 lime, juiced
kosher salt, to taste

Toast pepitas in a skillet on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on the edges.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the cilantro, mint, garlic, and ginger into a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped.  Add the pumpkin seeds and process until combined.  Leaving the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.  Add lime juice and salt and pulse a few more times to combine.

Store unused pesto in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Makes about 2 cups.

Linking to the awesome parties listed here.

Pantry Raid: Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce

148/365 Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce #365project #latergram #nofilter

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I wanted eggplant in garlic sauce.  But I didn’t want to go out, and we can’t get good takeout delivery in my neighborhood.  (Unless you know something I don’t know fellow near-Eastside Indy dwellers.)  I went online for inspiration and found this Sichuan Eggplant from Appetite for China.

Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce | annumography.wordpress.com

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Of course, I didn’t have all of the ingredients in my pantry.  Still not wanting to go out, I would have to figure out some substitutions.  To be honest with you, this is one of my favorite parts of cooking.  Behind the eating.  And making others happy.  And the compliments.

Making substitutions also allowed me to choose gluten-free and refined sugar-free ingredients.  And it gave me some small satisfaction to use what I had on hand.  If you don’t have the ingredients listed below, I encourage you to make your own substitutions.  Let me know how it turns out.

148/365 Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce #365project #latergram #nofilter

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Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce

3/4 lb. eggplant
1 T. chicken stock
1 T. red curry paste
1 T. tamari or soy sauce
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 t. cooking rice wine
1 t. honey
1/2 t. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 t. cornstarch
1 T. vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2-inch piece ginger, minced
Thinly sliced green onions, if desired

Peel and seed (if desired) eggplant and cut into 1-inch cubes.  (I used a thick-skinned Italian eggplant, and I prefer to remove both the skin and seeds.  For Asian eggplants, I would skip this step and simply cube it.)  Set aside.

To make the sauce, combine chicken stock, red curry paste, tamari sauce, balsamic vinegar, rice wine, honey, red pepper flakes, and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Stir and set aside.

Heat wok or non-stick skillet over high heat, then add oil and swirl the pan so that the bottom and sides are coated. Add cubed eggplant and stir-fry until golden-brown, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 30 seconds.  Pour the sauce mixture in the pan and stir to coat the eggplant.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Serve eggplant over rice and garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.

Makes 2 servings (or 1 large serving)

Linking to the awesome parties listed here.

Create and Inspire


Sweet & Savory Cornmeal Pancakes (Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

139/365 sweet & savory gluten-free cornmeal pancakes #365project #seekarencook

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Do you ever have cravings for a particular food that you haven’t eaten in years?  Just out of nowhere?  That’s me with these cornmeal pancakes.  So when I found this gluten-free recipe for sweet or savory cornmeal pancakes, I was a happy camper.

Except why, I thought, do I have to choose between sweet or savory?  Why not both?  And that, children, is how we got Sweet & Savory Cornmeal Pancakes.  You are welcome.

139/365 sweet & savory gluten-free cornmeal pancakes #365project #seekarencook

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Sweet & Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

1 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 t. salt
3/4 c. milk, or more as needed
1 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1/4 c. chopped chives
3 slices crispy bacon, crumbled
2 T. bacon drippings
1 large egg
1 T. walnut oil, or preferred oil

Combine the cornmeal, salt, and 1 1/2 cups boiling water in a bowl. Stir and let sit until the cornmeal absorbs the water and softens, approximately 5 minutes. In a small bowl, beat the egg and set side. Stir cranberries, orange peel, chives, bacon, and drippings into the cornmeal mixture. Add the egg and stir until combined. Slowly add milk, until the batter is the desired consistency — thin enough to spread on the pan, but not too thin.

Put a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add a drizzle of oil to the pan. Spoon out the batter, making any size pancakes you like. Cook until edges and underside are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and cook on the other side until golden.  Serve with maple syrup.

Makes 4-6 servings.

SeeKarenFollow: This Week

So, yeah, it’s been a while.  And you would think that I would have lots of pictures from Instagram to share during my absence.  But when this lady takes a break, she means it.  So here is what little I have to show and tell from the last two weeks.

125/365 saving castoffs from the Goodwill bin for making tshirt yarn this morning #365project #seekarencraft

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I saved some of my hubby’s old t-shirts from the donation bin to make some t-shirt yarn.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with it yet.  There are just so many options to choose, it overwhelms me.

My hubby made me this brunch sammie. I'm a lucky girl!

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The hubby made me a brunch sammie on gluten-free bread and served it up with some pickled shrimp.  Yum!  Who’s a lucky wife?

This is the only evidence remaining of my latest epic recipe fail.  Crab-stuffed something sounded good, I had some zucchini in the fridge, and quinoa would make it all gluten-free.  Long story short, do not try to talk yourself into thinking that canned crab meat will work in a pinch.  It doesn’t.  Didn’t I learn anything from Top Chef?

Fortunately these lovely people have been much more productive than I over the last couple of weeks, giving me lots of goodies to pin on Pinterest.

  1. Okay, so if I had this blooming monogram on my wall, do you think I would keep my promise to always have fresh flowers in the house?
  2. This bulldog corkboard mural is too cute to be confined in a kid’s bedroom (though it is awesome there).  I say do some excellent pop art installation on your living room wall with it.
  3. I want one of all my favorite animals as framed fabric art.
  4. Direct your attention to your best asset with this lace-embellished t-shirt.  (Yes, I mean your booty.  Don’t you think the lace draws your attention down the line?)
  5. I need these rummage sale tips to get my resale mojo back.  More selling = more buying, so I need to get to it.
  6. Really, do I need to say anything else except strawberry margarita cupcakes?
  7. I know that I don’t need to say again how much I love bacon.   Besides, I will just be reminding you again in a few days.  But don’t you want some of these maple-bacon muffins with crumbled bacon glaze right now?
  8. I think I will have lots more success with this crispy buffalo quinoa bites salad.  No canned crab to make it go oh-so-wrong.
  9. Shut up!  Peanut-butter-cup-stuffed chocolate-dipped Oreos?  I might be salivating like Pavlov’s dog.
  10. I experienced another great minds think alike moment with this chocolate sour cream tortilla cake.  I have some leftover corn tortillas that I know would make a kick-butt dessert.  Once I get it down, I’ll be sure to share it with you all.

I also wanted to encourage everyone in or around the Indianapolis area to attend An Enchanted Spring Market this Friday and Saturday, May 24-25th.  Nicki has been posting about all the great vendors who will be there, and it sounds like it’s going to be great.  Memorial Day Weekend is a busy one around here, more because of the Indy 500 than my birthday of course, so don’t forget to make some room in your calendar for this vintage/crafty shopping opportunity.

Down-Home Goes Upscale with an Apple Moonshine Mint Julep

138/365 Down Home Mint Julep for The Preakness #365project #seekarendrink

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Are you watching the Preakness today?  Hoping that Orb will win?  Either way, this cocktail is a sure bet.

Inspired by Country Spoon’s Classic Mint Julep, I wanted to give my version a little extra down-home, Southern flair by using Apple Pie Midnight Moon Moonshine.  Don’t have silver julep cups?  No worries!  I gave my juleps a little uptown flair with these vintage, silver-dipped martini pitcher and glasses.

And they’re off.

138/365 Down Home Mint Julep for The Preakness #365project #seekarendrink

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Down-Home Apple Pie Moonshine Mint Juleps

crushed ice
1 T. xylitol, pulverized (or powdered sugar)
6-8 fresh mint leaves
1/2 c. Apple Pie Midnight Moon Moonshine

Fill martini pitcher or mixing glass with crushed ice. Add mint and pulverized xylitol and stir until dissolved. Add moonshine and stir again. Pour into glasses garnished with a fresh mint sprig and additional crushed ice (if needed).

Makes 2 cocktails.

My Take: Coffee Filter Wreath

131/365 coffee filter wreath Mother's Day gift #365project #nofilter #seekarencraft

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With as much time as I spend on bloglovin’ and Pinterest, I know that there are a lot of coffee filter wreaths out there.  I wasn’t sure about hopping on the bandwagon.  But when I rescued a couple hundred coffee filters from a friend who was going to trash them, I decided to make my own.

130/365 "Flowering" coffee filters is therapeutic #365project #seekarencraft

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I followed the tutorial from The SITS Girls, but I used a willow wreath from Dollar Tree for my form.  Half of my time was spent folding, the other part gluing.  By the way, I used fast-grab glue instead of a glue gun.  Figured my fingers were safer that way.

Once the wreath was finished, it looked a little too “wedding”.  I was giving the wreath as a gift, and I wanted its recipient to be able to switch out the ribbon for all seasons and holidays.  I also wanted to accentuate the texture of the wreath, which was the best part.

Many bloggers dip and/or dye their coffee wreaths.  Me, I didn’t have that kind of time.  Besides, they were already glued onto the wreath.  Instead I watered down some silver paint (2 parts paint to 1 part water) and lightly ran a flat artists brush over the coffee filter edges.  The entire wreath only needed about a teaspoon of paint (including the tiny drops that I flipped onto my face and arms during the process).

132/365 mini wreath with coffee filter flower for Gran on Mother's Day #365project #seekarencraft

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I also made a second gift wreath by painting another willow form and attaching a coffee filter flower.  The flower is sprayed with red glitter paint.  So subtle, you can’t even see it in this shot.  Wink.

131/365 coffee filter wreath Mother's Day gift #365project #nofilter #seekarencraft

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What do you think about the silver tipped filters?  Can’t you just see a Christmas bow on there?  Halloween?  And think of the possibilities for weddings…just add your custom colors and have fun.

SeeKarenFollow: This Week

Who else is overjoyed that it’s May?  In Indy, May is a month full of activity and celebration…including my birthday.  I usually share my birthday weekend with the Indy 500, so I’ve learned to make the most of it.  This week, however, was all about counting down to Cinco de Mayo (from the food I ate to the shoes I wore and of course the margaritas) and other random moments caught on Instagram.

I finally took down my tissue paper flower garlands, but only to replace them with red and blue crepe paper and glittery Cinco de Mayo decorations.  Yes, it does look a little like a 4th grade classroom up in there.  So?

120/365 Catching A Midsummer Night's Dream at #IRT #365project

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The hubby and I saw my all-time favorite ever presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Indiana Repertory Theatre this week.  The Shakespeare classic was depicted as a young boy’s dream set in the Belle Époque era.  Loved it!  And isn’t IRT beautiful inside?

Wah wah. It's a brownie sinkhole. #seekarencook

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Sometimes a great recipe starts with an epic fail.  This was the case with my Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream.  I hadn’t planned on ice cream.  But when the brownies blew up in the over, fell while cooling, cemented themselves to the pan, and then turned out to be a pudding cake consistency inside, plans changed.  I have to say, though, they made the best ice cream ever!

122/365 random rainbow sighting #365project #nofilter

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This photo is why I love, love, love Instagram.  Because sometimes you spy a random rainbow in the sky.  And not only do you need to take a picture of this thing that makes you smile, but you also need to share it with others immediately.  Smiles all around!

When you look at what I pinned on Pinterest this week, it will appear that I was very hungry.  And thirsty.  All week.  I threw in a couple of crafty ideas at end.  Because they are awesome…not just to feel less guilty about my food cravings.

  1. Nacho fries are a brilliant idea.  Why hasn’t anyone done this sooner?  Maybe they have, but I wasn’t paying attention.  Never mind.  I want to try these soon; maybe even switch it up with sweet potato fries.  Yum!
  2. Month of May parties are all about the potluck.  I’m keeping this Royal Potato Salad recipe in mind for the next shindig.
  3. It’s probably dangerous that I can now make these cinnamon-sugar almonds in the crock pot.  As soon as I figure out how to make them with non-refined sugar choices, I may just be out-of-control.
  4. Speaking of out-of-control.  Chocolate-covered bacon toffee.  Someone please pry it away from me.
  5. I had an awesome idea this week.  Why not make my own version of a Choco-Taco with some leftover taco shells that I have in the pantry.  I spent a few days pondering ice cream options that would blend perfectly with the shells.  Then I found these Peanut Buster Choco Tacos.  So good; I’m totally going to copy!
  6. Roasted jalapeno margaritas.  Do I need to say anything else?
  7. Hot summer days are a comin’, and where would I be without these agua frescas?
  8. Ten gifts in one hour.  Hooray!  That’s what I’m thinking when I see these fabric key chains.
  9. How adorable is this no-sew lattice t-shirt?  I’m thinking you could customize it to your desired level of exposure (ahem).
  10. Not only do I appreciate the DIY wood transfer tutorial on this post, but the message is something that I need in my life.  Daily.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!