what do you want to do?

cleaning (5) craft (26) DIY food (7) niftyman (4) nondairy (18) vegan (11)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

DIY Pac Man Ghost Costume

If you have a teenager, you know they love the group costume. This year, Phoebe and her friends decided to be Inky, Blinky, and Pinky; and then they got their friend Patrick to be "Pat" Man. For those of you who need a refresher:

OK, Phoebe is genius for preying on my weakness for '70s pop culture. On top of that, I loved that my cowardly child had found a way to dress up as a non-scary ghost.

Here's an easy and economical group costume. We started off with the inspiration:  

Before you question the need for a ghost dress, understand the teenage girl mentality: you're too mature for the cumbersome cardboard cutout costume, and you want to look pretty. But alas, finding three a-line dresses in the appropriate colors for cheap proved impossible.

Enter the Michael's big t-shirt for $2.50. After combing through all the DIY shirt-to-dress transformation tutorials on the Web, I finally decided to keep it simple. Instead of cutting, I treated the t-shirt as a giant tube top and tied the sleeves:

Just make sure you get a shirt at least two sizes bigger than what you would normally wear. For example, Phoebe is normally an XS adult, so she is wearing a L here. The idea is to have enough material to create an a-line dress instead of a tight sheath. Throw a black t-shirt under the "dress" (you can argue that it's the black screen of the video game; plus, I'm pretty sure tube tops are a dress-code violation at most schools) and you're done! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nondairy Creamy Avocado Soup

Here's another solution to the constant challenge of making a creamy yet nondairy soup: use avocados. I just happen to have half a dozen ripe avocados and everyone loves guacamole, but here's a nice way to change it up. I have to give credit to the avocado sack, which had a soup recipe. Unfortunately I threw away that messy net of a sack, so here's the version I made up through trial and error (i.e, bleh, this soup is too thin; ugh, too thick; ah, just right).

3 medium-sized avocados
32-oz box of reduced sodium chicken broth
12-oz can of corn
juice and zest of 1 lime or lemon
salt to taste
cilantro and lime wedges for garnish

Puree avocados and chicken broth in a small saucepan with yes, you guessed it, my best friend the handheld immersion blender.

The pressure to make use of these beauties weighs heavily.

OK, you caught me.
I'm just pretending
to puree here because
I forgot to take a
picture--the corn has
already gone in.

Bring to a boil. Season with salt--avocados usually require a lot of salt. Add corn, lime zest, and lime juice. Serve with chopped cilantro and lime wedges. You can also add shredded chicken for a heartier soup. Makes about four servings.

Phoebe looks pleased.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Peanut-Butter Banana Pupcakes: Cupcakes for Dogs

I wanted to make Luna cupcakes for her second birthday. Last year I made her meatballs, but meatballs aren't really that special these days, as I often make them for her to top her kibble. I used simple ingredients that Luna has eaten before. I'm not sure if dogs can have baking powder or baking soda, so I used beaten egg whites as the leavener. Basically, I substituted peanut butter for oil, banana for sugar, and oats for flour. As Ina Garten would say, How bad can that be?


4T peanut butter
2 egg yolks
1 ripe banana
1 egg white
1/2 c oats

frosting: 1 part Greek yogurt + 1 part peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate eggs--it's easiest to do this with cold eggs. Then let the white sit at room temperature for about half an hour before beating. Reserve 1 egg white for another use. (I usually add it to scrambled eggs.)

Beat egg whites in a standing mixer on low-medium speed until foamy. Turn up to medium-high speed until you get stiff peaks. This will take about 3 minutes.

Mash the bananas (I use a potato masher). Add peanut butter and egg yolks. Set wet ingredients aside.

Throw the oats into food processor. Process until oats resemble a course "flour."

Fold oat flour into wet ingredients. Fold beaten egg whites into batter.

Line a mini-muffin pan with paper cups. Use a small ice cream scoop to fill muffin cups with batter. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool in muffin tin for 15 minutes. Makes about 20 mini cupcakes.

I made a dozen for Luna. Then to make it more interesting for human consumption, I added 1/3c chocolate chips to the rest of the batter and ended up with 8 chocolate peanut-butter cupcakes. Caution: Chocolate is toxic to dogs, so make sure you don't mix up your cakes.

Luna (right) and her bffl Lacie (left),
hoping for more cupcakes

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Easy April Fool's Prank: How to Make Fake Poop

I'm sure I saw some mention of making poop out of toilet paper on Pinterest, but I failed to pin it, so I can't give credit to the mastermind who created this idea. I didn't see step-by-step instructions, but I just used common sense (that is, tear up the toilet paper roll). Here's an easy method for making fake poop:

I made this in less than ten minutes--so worth it for my husband's reaction: "Aaaaa! Why is there poop on the toilet?!" For a moment, he thought our dog did it. (But how did she balance herself on the toilet seat?) Then he thought our fifteen-year-old was in such a hurry that she didn't notice she left poop on the toilet. (Wha?)

OK, now go forth and prank someone.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DIY Granola

This time of year, we're scrambling for homemade gifts. Phoebe wants to bring her teachers something and now that she's in middle school, she has a lot of them, including dance teachers, who I assume are health-conscious. After perusing different recipes (some with shocking amounts of oil or butter) and making my own adjustments (not a coconut lover) I came up with a healthy granola. The best part? We had all these ingredients in our pantry.

Adapted from bonappetit.com

3 c oats
1-1/2 c unsalted nuts
1 t cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 egg white
2T maple syrup
2T honey
2T grapeseed oil

zest of 1 orange
1 c dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place nuts (I used the mix from Costco: almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans) in a plastic bag wrapped in a dishcloth and pound with a rolling pin. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and coat with egg white. Add wet ingredients. Spread onto parchment-lined sheet pan. The original recipe required stirring every 10 minutes for even browning. This produced nice crunchy granola bits, but I wanted some clusters. To encourage clusters, press the granola together and into the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 275 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. You may want to check to make sure your granola does not brown too fast. Remove from oven and add orange zest and dried cranberries. Let cool in pan. Makes about 5 cups.

According to the bonappetit site, you can store in an airtight container for 2 weeks, but it probably won't last that long! The batch I made yesterday is almost gone, so I better double the recipe and pack it up if we really want to get these out. I think I'll try lemon zest and raisins next.

Whoops, this cluster is too small--CHOMP!

This granola makes Monday
mornings better.