Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Bake Sort Of

Baby Bee's dance group recently had a fundraising dinner and silent auction.  One thing that seems to always sell well are homemade baked goods.  So Saturday afternoon (before the auction) the Baking Stadium at Sweet Bee Cottage got busy!

Within three hours my baking assistants (Worker Bee & Baby Bee) and I whipped up three yumptious baked treats for bidding.

We made Peanut Butter Brownies (a family favorite),
Orange-Pistachio Biscotti (my mom bid on these because she says I never give her any - I'll have to remedy that - or maybe I should keep her wanting more so she'll bid them up again next year),
and Buttermilk Devil's Food Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting!
I always try to make the package attractive too for these events.

I started off with some pretty plastic trays from Dollar Tree (the ones that look like old-fashioned pressed glass, but they're really plastic)and a paper doily (also from Dollar Tree).

Then I googled images of the items I baked (mine were still baking during this time so I couldn't photograph my own), added the item name with a cute font, and printed them out.  I cut a little slit on either side of the label, slid a ribbon through, and tied it off.  They sold for over $50, so I must have done pretty well!

And....speaking of bake sales -
are you aware of the Great American Bake Sale?
Sewing Bee, Baby Bee, and I have formed a team for this event.  I hope to add some more team members too!  I'll keep you posted on how it comes along.
You can join too by going here!
All proceeds from this event will go to help end childhood hunger.  
Do you have any tips or recipes to share?

Thanks for buzzing by!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gourmet Crock Pot?

Who knew?
Pick up a Williams-Sonoma cookbook on slow cookers and you're suddenly a gourmet chef!

Wanna' see what I made?  Totally out of my comfort zone too.

I rarely cook (and by rarely, I mean I can make Chinese Chicken Salad) Asian, but we're such Top Chef fans here at Sweet Bee Cottage that I was inspired to try this recipe.

Are you ready?

I made.............
Asian-Style Short Ribs!

Yum!  Very different flavors, but oh so delicious and the best part was that it smelled so divine all day as it cooked.

Here's what you need to make this yourself:

4 lb. of beef short ribs (trimmed of most fat)
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp five-spice powder
1/4 cup EACH hoisin sauce and ketchup
2 Tbl rice vinegar
2 Tbl soy sauce
1 Tbl Asian fish sauce
1 Tbl honey
1 small onion finely chopped
1 Tbl peeled and minced fresh ginger
5 cloves of garlic, smashed

Daikon Salad for garnish:  (Don't skip this - it gives such a delightful fresh crunch and flavor to the shortribs)
1 lg daikon, peeled and julienned (or shredded on box grater)
2 carrots, peeled and julienned (or shredded on box grater)
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
3 Tbl peanut oil
1 Tbl rice vinegar

2 Tbl chopped roasted peanuts or cashews

How to make it:
1.  Preheat the broiler.  Season the ribs with the salt and pepper, five-spice powder, and place on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.  Broil, turning once, until nicely browned and sizzling on both sides, about 8-10 minutes on each side.

2.  In the slow cooker, stir together the hoisin sauce, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, onion, ginger, and garlic.  All the ribs and turn to coat evenly with the hoisin mixture.  Stack the thicker ribs at the bottom of the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on the low setting for 6 hours.  The meat should be very tender.

3.  Remove the ribs from the slow cooker and serve.  Divide among warm shallow bowls or plates, moisten each serving with some of the braising liquid and top with a large spoonful of the Daikon salad.  Garnish with the chopped nuts and serve at once.

We had this for Sunday dinner.  Sewing Bee was over and so was Strawberry Bee (Baby Bee's BFF). 

 We all loved it!  
One of the best things about this dinner was how it reminded Worker Bee of his dad.  When Worker Bee was in high school his dad decided to take a Chinese cooking class.  All the flavors and smells from this dish prompted him to tell all kinds of stories about his dad.  (Worker Bee's dad passed away in 2004 and we miss him all the time.) 
This is the cookbook I got this recipe from and I made the cover dish!

I hope you give this a try!
Bee adventurous!
And I hope you take a moment and buzz by this post for my latest little giveaway!
Linking up to

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Rednesday Jaunt Outside....

Gorgeous weather today!  A bit chilly, but you could see the foothills so clearly!

Thought I'd take you outside and show you some reds around the front yard.
I know, I know.  This little sign is a rerun.  But I just love the scallops, the little punched edge, the black and white gingham cheers me so. 
Cute little Mary Engelbreit garden flag out by the corner of our Picket Fence Garden.  I used to have this hanging outside my classroom door, but when I had to move classrooms a few years ago, I couldn't hang them anymore, and so it came home to live with me full time.
(Note to self - Kitchen Garden bench needs to be repainted.)  Got this long pillow from Pottery Barn a few summers ago.  I leave it out year round (yeah, don't look too close - haven't done the annual spring spruce up yet) and we usually have some plant hanging from the shepherd's hook, but not yet this year.
This is my amazing stump that I turned into a mosaic side table.  I still love it, but it could also use a nice refresher.  You can read all about when I originally made it here.  I think it's done pretty well for being outside full time.  
Look!  A Valentine's Day decoration I forgot to put away!  This is over by our kitchen door which we hardly ever use!  I promised myself this year I would not forget to check out there before putting decorations away, but apparently I break promises to myself.  Just ask my treadmill.
And, last but not least, is Sam and his bell.  (Would he pose for his picture for you?  Does a cat EVER pose for its human?)

Well, Happy Rednesday to you!  Hope you're enjoying a bit of springy weather and if you're not, I hope you get to enjoy it soon.

And, yes, I know I promised words of wisdom for my 402nd post (which this is), but you'll have to wait for 403 now.  I'm sure great wisdom will have enveloped me and I will share with you then.

Speaking of 400+ posts...hop on over to this post if you want to enter my little giveaway!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you can buzz in again!
Buzzing over to Sue's for Rednesday!

Monday, March 19, 2012

400 Posts (Technically 401 Now) Giveaway

Another milestone......400 posts!

So I thought I'd celebrate with my bloggy friends by having a couple of little giveaways!
Giveaway #1 is a copy of From Garden to Plate magazine!  I picked up my own copy and loved it - from garden plans to recipes to preserving tips.
Giveaway #2 is a Spring Gingham Spectacular!  (Okay, spectacular might be overstating it a bit...) It includes a cute little pink gingham bucket, a pad of gingham post-it notes, and 10 of the cutest gingham pencils ever!  (I bought a set for myself and took half to school and kept the other half here at home.)  It also includes a pair of cute chicky springy dishtowels.

Now there must be rules for these sorts of things, so....

1.  You may enter either giveaway, but please leave separate comments for each one. (as in comment #1 - please enter me in giveaway #1 and then comment #2 - please enter me in giveaway #2)  Sure hope that's clear!

2.  Giveaway #1 open to world!  Giveaway #2 only open to US and Canada due to shipping costs.

3.  Giveaway ends on Friday, March 30 at 12 midnight PDT.

Thanks for buzzing along with me!
Happy Spring!
P.S. I know you're shocked!  No profound words of wisdom on this 401st post.  I'm saving up for post  402.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Just a Quick Post

I am so excited!  The Fabulous Phyllis just delivered Baby Bee's slipcovered chair!
It is adorable!  
Do you see the polka dots?

That Phyllis is so talented!  I drew a picture of what I wanted and she created!  

We're one step closer to having this room done!  
Hurry up Spring Break!  
Hurry up Spring Break!

When all my little projects are done for Baby Bee's room I'll share all the details (ad nauseum, I'm sure)!

P.S.  If you're still hanging out here, I have a tiny little giveaway coming up soon!
(I just wrote my 400th post!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Some Garden and Cooking Inspiration

I recently found a magazine that appealed to my gardening side (which sometimes goes pretty dormant) and my cooking side (which is usually something I enjoy tremendously).  I just had to share it with you.

It's published by Better Homes and Gardens and it's called from Garden to Plate.
It has wonderful garden plan ideas, recipes, preserving tips, and sections devoted to Spring Harvest, Summer Harvest, and Autumn Harvest.  

I am very inspired!

So inspired that I made one of the recipes for dinner on Sunday when Sewing Bee comes over.

It was quite delicious, although I have a few ideas that would probably improve our experience.

Beef, Mushroom and Onion Tart

12 oz. lean ground beef
1 8 oz. package sliced mushrooms
1/2 of a medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 13.8 oz package refrigerated pizza dough
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Fresh oregano

1.  Heat oven to 425ยบ.  In a large skillet cook beef, mushrooms, and onion over med heat for about 8 minutes, until beef is browned and onion is tender, stirring occasionally.  Drain off the fat and add the salt and pepper.

2.  Line a cookie sheet or stone with parchment paper. (you can grease the pan too, but I find parchment paper easier to work with and it makes for quick clean up)  Roll or pat the dough into a 15 x 12 inch rectangle.  Top dough with the beef mixture, keeping enough of an edge to fold over, pleating as needed.

3.  Bake tart for 15 minutes or until crust is golden.  Top with the blue cheese, and if desired, the oregano. (you can also use pizza seasoning, but we had the oregano in our kitchen garden so we used it)
A nice glass of merlot while I prepared this was a plus!

We all enjoyed it very much!  (It's a "Make Again" which is high praise at Sweet Bee Cottage.)

Now....for some things that did NOT work for us:
•I baked this in a jelly roll pan and it took a long time to bake (longer than 15 minutes) and my meat & veggie mixture got dried out.
•I used Trader Joe's pizza dough and that also might be why the crust took longer to brown than the one suggested in the original recipe.

Well, I'm willing to try making it again just for you.  
So, just let me know....what would you like to drink?

Thank you so much for stopping by our little cottage!
It's a pleasure to know you took time from your day for a visit.

P.S.  Here's how the recipe is supposed to look.  Drat those food stylists!  Maybe next time mine can look as glamorous!
And, oh yes,
I'm linking up with

Sunday, March 11, 2012

When a Bee Goes to an Estate Sale

A few of us bees headed out to an estate sale this weekend!  I didn't make it the first day to the sale, but Worker Bee and I went on Saturday and then Sewing Bee and I returned today to see if there were more treasures to be had.

And, buzz, buzz, buzz – there were!
 My vintage bee antenna went off over this cute rolling pin.  Not in perfect condition (some chips on the end of one of the handles) but I LOVED the color!  
I don't know if that cork will come out, but it is just so great!
Then I found three of these jam jars on Saturday and three more today!  I love them for candles but they would be cute for desserts or small sides dishes.  
For $1 I got this collection of records.  I didn't buy it for the records but for the folio.  Won't this make a great 4th of July decoration?
 Love those little stars!
I also got a ton of linens - from vintage sheets to tablecloths, to hankies to dish towels.  I need to wash them up and decide what to do with them too.  You know I really want to learn how to sew better this summer and these might make some darling little buntings or pillows.  Or something else?  Do you have any crafty ideas?
Found some sweet chintz tea mugs.  (These might head for my etsy shop - have to think about it.)
 And then this cute little purple glass ink bottle. (At least I think it's an ink bottle.)
And now...........
yes a pause would be appropriate here........
you might want to wait with bated breath.....

Ta da!
 A box of vintage Christmas ornaments!!!
With vintage Christmas light bulbs as a bonus!

(should I tell you how much I paid for them?  probably not, it might make you cry)

I can't wait to see if I have enough to make one of these beauties....

Thanks so much for buzzing by for a visit.  
It's turned gray here again and rain is hoped for by the end of the week.  Sure hope we get it because we need it.  Next weekend I have to work in my kitchen garden or I won't have fresh herbs and veggies this year.  
Trying a new recipe onion tart with beef and blue cheese that I found in a magazine.  (I'm a huge fan of blue cheese.)  Doesn't that sound yummy?  (Worker Bee isn't sure, so I'll let you know how it goes.)
Must work on report cards too!  Those go home on Friday, so I'll be a bit busy!

It was a treat to see you!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Welcome Home....

Is it wrong to just feel so warmly welcomed when you pull up to your own home?

One of my favorite things about Sweet Bee Cottage is how inviting it looks as I drive up after work.  

Our kitchen is on the front of our house and it's where everyone always hangs out.
One day I'd like to have a little bit of a front porch on Sweet Bee Cottage, but for now, my cherry plates on the wall will have to impart that front porch cottage feel.
And there's always a little something to the left of the front door to welcome me home.
And then I glance at our address plaque that we bought at the Judy Buswell Studio in Willamina, Oregon on a trip Worker Bee and I took shortly before I got pregnant with Baby Bee.

I love it when a story goes with the things you own.

(By the way - we adored Portland!  I seriously could move there.  My favorite part of Portland you ask?   Why Java Man espresso joints!  First place I ever had a Mexican Mocha!  YUMMMMM!)

But I digress, as usual.....
And then there's Sam (the cat who thinks I belong to him) waiting and trying to break in.  
He's a sneaky one, that rascal Sam.

Waiting on the other side of the door?

 Why it's Worker Bee and Baby Bee all snug as bugs in rugs
•••••••and Worker Bee greets me at the door with a fresh latte•••••••
and we all snuggle into our evening at Sweet Bee Cottage.

Oh yeah!  Truth in advertising and all....Worker Bee DOES NOT greet me at the door with a fresh latte, but a girl can dream, right???

Thanks for buzzing by for a visit!
I hope one day, you too can stop for a visit and I won't let you down.  I'll have that latte waiting for you when you come in the door!