PRETTY PURPLE KALE SALAD

 
I've been pretty slow to jump on the kale train.  Not because I don't think it's healthy for me, but because I thought it was gross.  I did try kale chips awhile back, but I think brussel sprout chips are much better. 
 
Anyhow, this recipe changed my kale-hatin' opinions.  The texture is nice, the flavor is fresh and good, and it's so darn pretty! To top it all off, it's so simple that you'll hardly know you took the time to make it.

FLAKY APRICOT STRUDEL BITES


These flaky, buttery, sweet-tart bundles of joy won't disappoint at a party.  I promise you.  At Thanksgiving, it was all I could do to keep the guys out of the cupboard that I'd hidden these in.  Despite my efforts, only half of them made it to the Woman Cave. 

Oh, yes, the Woman Cave.  Every year at Thanksgiving, my huge family (by huge I mean over forty people) gets together for football, fun, and food.  The guys go into the Man Cave- a cold, garage with nothing but beer, a deep fryer, and, I assume, lots of farts.  The women have the Woman Cave in the warm kitchen with fancy treats and cheeses and wine.  And no farts.  I think we get the better end of the deal.  All of this eventually leads to treaties between the caves where we trade fancies for their fried goods.  These were a hot commodity.

So, if you're looking for something delicious and deceptively fancy, these are a great go-to.  With pre-made phyllo dough, you can't go wrong!

DIY BITTERS RECIPES + FREE PRINTABLE LABELS


I don't know if these are technically bitters, but I do know that they're fun to put into drinks!  If you like experimenting with interesting new cocktails or spicing up the old ones- you'll really like these.

For the free printable labels, go here to download and print them.  Read on below for the recipes for each of the bitters.


DIY PAPER MID CENTURY CHRISTMAS HOUSES


https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B9lX15rLaMHpbk9wMHlGZGE2STA&usp=sharing
 
I love the look of vintage mid century paper houses.  They're so quirky and fragile with their cardboard roofs and chunky glitter snow.  I got overly ambitious and decided to make a miniature of our house, which is a complicated Victorian and I would not recommend it unless you have a lot of time on your hands or are really, very bored. 
 
Luckily, I had both of those while I was stuck at a dead-end desk job where I had a lovely view of a wall all day and sometimes didn't see another human for a week at a time and had unlimited office supplies on hand.  Anyhow, I've made some simpler patterns for you to download here.  If you're feeling ambitious and want to make your own house I can tell you how below. 

HOW NOT TO MAKE HAM POT PIE

Let me start this post by saying, less is more in the kitchen.  You know how they say that you should take off one accessory before you leave the house?  Well, I need to take that advice when it comes to my recipe inventions.  I just get crazy and start adding all sorts of things and before I know it, I've got some whackadoodle concoction that my poor husband has to bravely eat his way through.  He may actually be pawning it off on the poor dog, but at least I'm oblivious to it.

I had it in my head all day that I wanted to make a pot pie for supper.  It's cold and both the Man and I are in sweaters all the time, so what's a little bit off extra puff around our middles going to hurt?  Bring on the comfort carbs!

I was so proud of myself because I was going to use up a store-bought pie crust that had been lurking in the freezer, just waiting for me to forget about it for a year or three. I tried to thaw the pie crust in the microwave, which resulted in a molten blob of crust wrapped tidily in a plastic tube.  The dog was happy with that at least.  Off to make a real crust.  In retrospect, I should have known it was an "off" cooking day for me and I should have just made spaghetti, but I was determined.

Crust was made successfully at least.  I happily started to throw the sauce together just as the Man came home.

"I feel like Julie in that movie about Julia Child.  You know, working all day and dreaming about making food at home"  I yammered on to the Man about this, blissfully unaware that the sauce was adhering itself to the pan with a nice, black char.

A quick transfer to a bowl and the sauce was saved.  Into the crust it went and everything looked splendid.  It baked to a nice golden brown and filled the house with that Sunday-dinner-at-your-grandma's kind of smell.

I cut into it and it was neon yellow.  Whoah.

Once you've turned a sauce neon yellow, you can't go back.

"It tastes really good, love, but the sauce...why is it yellow?"

"Umm, I think I should not have put Turmeric in it"

"It's good...but I don't know if people in a restaurant would...order it"  That's my man, trying so hard to be nice.  He's the best.  He's also probably remembering the time I overreacted just a bit to his negative comment on my Thanksgiving meal gravy. I responded by throwing the whole meal in the garbage, turkey and all, and crying for about an hour.  Not proud of that one, although I'm sure we'll get some good laughs about it when we're more gray up top.

We both ate it, I ate it for lunch for the whole week.  The Man politely declined my offer to pack him some.  He had two helpings at home, but I'm guessing he didn't want to field questions about what the heck kind of a neon pie he was eating for lunch at work.

After a conversation with my amazing sister who can take a plain potato and make it taste fabulous with a pinch of salt and whatever magic she has that makes everything taste good, I realized I may have over seasoned a bit.

"What spices did you use in the pie?"

"Ohh, some of this, some of that.  Salt, pepper, turmeric-"

"Oh my, why?"

"I also put in sage, rosemary-"

"Amber!  That's too much with ham!  Maybe just a little thyme next time"

"Oh, I put that in, too"

She may have smacked her hand to her head while shaking it in disbelief, but I was laughing so hard I couldn't tell.

I think I need to call her for an intervention before I put any more spices into any recipe.

Well, since I've pre-screwed up this recipe for you, have no fear now, as I'll spend some more time tweaking it and post a really tried and true pot pie recipe soon.  In the meantime, remember, less is more.



DIY GIFT IDEAS FOR MEN


It's hard to find good DIY gifts for guys that aren't froufy or feminine.  Aside from the occasional manly DIY I find, they are usually something that my man would feel really silly using or wearing. Here, I've rounded up some of my favorite DIY projects that I think the manly man in your life will appreciate.

1. infused vodkas + free labels
2. the greatest fire starters
3. cork or wood sunglasses
4. ranch dressing seasoning mix
5. manly leather wallet + easy pattern instructions
6. diy whiskey making kit
7. tiny desk desert
8. sweet & spicy pickled onions
9. garlic soy pickled green beans
10.homemade bitters + free printable labels

If you're looking for more ideas, you should check out The Art of Manliness blog.  It's one of my favorites and is always full of manly man ideas for the modern gentleman.