Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DIY Simmering Potpourri

I don't know if anyone else will find this useful, but I like my house to smell pretty. I have a thing with scents and my nose is very scent-oriented. I can smell stink a mile away! An alternative to lighting candles or plugging in home fragrances is mixing up your own quick simmering potpourri on the stove. All you need is a small saucepan, water, and herbs, citrus or fragrant ingredients of choice.

I like to use cinnamon sticks and rosemary. You can simmer lemons, basil, thyme, whatever ingredients you have that create a nice aroma. It will smell like something delicious is cooking on the stove and fill your house with a lovey scent.

Heat on your stove top on LOW and add water as needed. When you're done, pour it into a mason jar and store it in the fridge to reuse another time or two. It's a nice way to use up extra herbs you might have lying around. And, since it's made from natural ingredients, you don't have to worry about weird oils lingering in your pots and pans after your done.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ham and Cheese Crescent Rolls

This recipe is a no-brainer-must-try. Brought to you by Martha Stewart (yes, again). Perfect for dinner, lunch or breakfast/brunch. 
Anything involving Pillsbury Crescent Rolls is a winner in my book. Add ham and cheese and you've got a crescent roll on steroids. 

We made these the other night for dinner and Andrew loved them. He even enjoyed making them with me and said it was fun. I repeat. He said making dinner was fun. This recipe will now be added to my permanent rotation. I suggest you add it to yours too! 

Roll out the dough triangles. Add a dot or two of Dijon mustard. Top each with a slice of ham, then shredded cheese. Roll 'em up. Brush with a beaten egg. Bake for 12-14 minutes. What could be easier?

You may want to make a double batch. I ate 3 and Andrew ate 5. True story. Here's Martha's recipe for Ham and Cheese Crescent Rolls.

1 (8oz) can crescent-roll dough
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-2 slices cooked ham, cut into 8 2-in square pieces (or just sliced into strips)
1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, plus more for topping (or cheese of choice)
1 egg, lightly beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Open can of dough and roll out. Cut along the pre-scored lines and separate. Spread 1/4 tablespoon mustard over each piece of dough and top each with 1 piece of ham and 1 1/2 teaspoons grated cheese.
  3. Starting with the long end, roll each piece of dough up toward the point to form a crescent and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Brush each crescent with egg and top each with a pinch of grated cheese. Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake until golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fancy Brownies

My co-worker Naomi made some amazing brownies, so I asked her for the recipe. She said she doesn't really have a recipe, she just adds/substitutes a couple of ingredients. I had to give it a try. 

Start with a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix. The family size makes a 13x9 inch pan. I followed the directions for cake-like brownies. The secret is the addition of mini-marshmallows, chocolate chips, and Bailey's Coffee Liquor instead of water. They were absolutely delicious. The amount of chocolate chips and mini marshmallows is up to you. I used about 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups of mini marshmallows - most of which I folded into the batter at the end of mixing.

I sprinkled the rest on top before putting it into the oven to bake for 30 minutes. When the marshmallows are toasty and golden on top, it's probably ready. 

As for the Bailey's, the recipe called for 1/4 cup of water, so I substituted 1/4 cup of Bailey's, which equaled one mini bottle. Next time I might add two mini bottles to give it a little more coffee flavor. Yum! 

Next time you have a chocolate craving, these will definitely hit the spot! I might never eat plain-'ol-straight-from-the-box brownies again.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Despite my avoidance of exercise at all costs, I decided to give zumba a try. In case you haven't heard, zumba is a Latin dance-inspired fitness program. Wikipedia can tell you more about it here. It's being offered through my work, and I've been going once a week, for three weeks now. I must admit, I really like it. Primarily because it doesn't look or feel like exercise, it feels like you're at a dance party. I am a closet dancer at heart. Surprised? Not a very good one, but I like to move to music! I used to think I had some sense of rhythm and coordination, but day one of my first class reminded me otherwise. I was having flashbacks of being unable to master the steps of the electric slide at weddings. Ha! But, it does get better. I am catching on to the choreography and the teachers are great. Man, can they move! And fast! Talk about having confidence and mad dance skills. I don't think I'll ever be at that level, but a girl can try!

My friends have encouraged me to try it before but I've always been too shy and embarrassed. I'm actually glad I don't really know anyone in the class. I'm much more uninhibited to try something new when no one I know is there. Is that weird? That way, they can't make fun of me or tease me later about looking like a wanna-be-spice-girl with two left feet.

If you're looking for some fun aerobic exercise, and you like to get your groove on, you might want to try zumba. One hour flies by like nothing and I look forward to going to the class. I will say this, as a bit of a "warning," some of the moves will push you out of your comfort zone and can be a bit ca-razy, if you know what I mean. It does incorporate salsa, mambo and even some belly dance moves. Not for the faint of heart.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Votive Valentine

Valentines Day is a couple days away. If you're looking for a little something to show the ladies in your life that you care about them, one of these darling votive candles with candy is sure to brighten their day! Your friends/mom/sister/niece/aunt/grandma/babysitter/teacher/co-worker will love it. Did I forget anyone? 

I thought of this craft while perusing the Dollar Tree. I spotted these adorable rose decal glass votive candle holders, which sparked the whole idea. TWO in a pack for just $1! You can use any type of votive candle holder, even add your own decal or stickers. These were too cute to pass up, and perfect for valentines day! I bought 4 sets, so 8 votive holders total.

I also found an 8 pack of red apple cinnamon scented tea light candles for $1. Perfect! 
I picked up a bag of Hershey's Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate Hearts at the grocery store. I knew I already had cellophane, ribbon and paper confetti at home.

Start with the empty votive holder and place one tea light candle inside. 

Next, add some paper confetti on top of the tea light. Enough to create a cushion for the chocolate candy to sit on top. 

Add 4-5 chocolate candy hearts on top.

Wrap with a square piece of cellophane and tie a bow with a ribbon and a tag. I made tags with scrapbook paper, pattern on one side, solid red on the other side to write on.

What could be cuter? After the recipient enjoys the chocolate, they have a pretty votive candle to enjoy. 

This is a very affordable craft gift. I was able to make 8 of these for about $8. It's not to late to whip up a few of your own! 

glass votive candle holder
tea light candle
paper confetti 
chocolate heart candy
cellophane wrapping (or tissue paper)
card stock or scrapbook paper tag

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Flowers in February

I love flowers. If I could, I would have them around me 24/7. My sweetie got me these last week and they're still going strong, adding beautiful life to my kitchen. They're pink and yellow and they make me happy. And I get to display them in one of my milk glass pieces. Even prettier. 

Winter has been a lamb this year (so far) and at times it even feels like spring. I half expect to see buds on the trees but we've still got a couple months to go. In the mean time, I'm thankful for flowers in February.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sohl Design Etsy Shop

I am excited to announce that my Etsy shop is up and running. Yay! I have purchased items from Etsy and had only positive experiences. I have been thinking about setting up a shop of my own for design work, handmade accessories and other crafts. Thanks to the encouraging push from family and friends, I finally took that step! I wanted to learn the ins and outs of this online marketplace, chock full of artists, creators and collectors, before announcing it to the world. I discovered that it's very user friendly and a really great resource. 

I have been spending time setting up a few listings to get my feet wet. I even had my first sale last week! Whoo hoo! Here's what my shop looks like. You can search for it under the shops tab as "sohldesign" (one word).

You can also find the link along with thumbnails of items currently for sale in my blog sidebar (look to the right). I hope to continue to add more items and more design pieces. It's a start!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Panko Breaded Tofu

In the spirit of trying to eat healthier, I made stir-fry vegetables with sesame garlic sauce for dinner. As a protein accompaniment, I wanted to try panko breaded tofu. Yes, tofu. It can be really good! Sometimes I just don't feel like eating chicken or beef. One of my favorite Japanese restaurants serves tofu this way and I thought I'd give it a try at home. I found an easy recipe here
Photo courtesy of
I made stir-fry vegetables with Wegmans Asian Classics Sesame Garlic Sauce, and also used the sauce for dipping the breaded tofu in. It was delicious! Nice label too :) 

Photo courtesy of 

If you've never tried tofu, I encourage you to be adventurous! You just might like it. I have to thank Kristy for introducing me to tofu and I've liked it ever since! This recipe was especially light, yet filling. Andrew even liked it. I used Wegmans Organic Extra-Firm Tofu, and found it easy to work with. The key is making sure to drain/dry it well. 

Panko Breaded Tofu 

1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed to release as much liquid as you can and dried with paper towels
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 large egg
3 Tbsp water
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp canola oil

Slice the tofu into 2-inch cubes (I ended up with 9 pieces). Prep three shallow bowls – in the first bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper; whisk together the egg and water in the second bowl; add the panko breadcrumbs in the third bowl.  One by one, place each cube of tofu first in the flour mixture, coating all sides evenly and shaking off excess flour.  Then lightly dip the tofu in the egg wash, and finally coat with the panko. Repeat with the other cubes.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the tofu, frying on each side for about 4 minutes each or until browned.

When the tofu is done, drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce and vegetables. 

Breading the tofu and preparing it to be fried. 

It browned fairly quickly, making a nice crispy golden crust on the outside, and soft tofu on the inside. The garlic sauce made it extra delicious!