Month: April 2013

Spring Dinner: Asian Turkey Noodle Salad

turkey soba noodle salad

Ahhh…not to rub it in, all my friends who live in cooler climes…but the weather here in Southern California has been downright balmy. I mean, shorts and tank-tops, SPF-30, carry a bottle of water around, kinda weather. We’ve been enjoying the longer days and more time spent outdoors before bedtime (at least, bedtime for Gracie). We’ve also been enjoying the delicious spring produce that the warmer weather has brought!

Yesterday was one of those nights where you look up all sorts of recipes for dinner and nothing sounds good. So I decided to throw together a cool, fresh, main-course salad inspired by a Vietnamese rice noodle salad that Chris and I frequently enjoy. The best thing was that it used up some ground turkey I had on hand (which is super budget-friendly) and the rest of the ingredients are ones I commonly have on hand.

If you don’t have fish sauce you can omit it and just add salt to taste, although it won’t be anywhere near as funky-smelling (that could be a good or bad thing, depending on you haha). Oh, and I didn’t have cilantro last night, so I used parsley (which usually isn’t used in this dish), but it was still delicious. Parsley has a lovely anise flavor which isn’t alien to Southeast Asian dishes so it worked well.

Hope you like it too!

IMG_3725

Asian Turkey Noodle Salad

Serves 4

Meat Marinade
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Salad Dressing
1/4 cup Vietnamese fish sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp honey or sugar
juice of 1 large lime
pinch of crushed red chili flakes
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Salad
1 pound ground turkey
6 oz dried soba noodles
1 bag washed baby greens (about 5 oz)
1 English cucumber, julienned (or 5 persian cucumbers, or 2 asian cukes)
handful of bean sprouts (optional)
toasted sesame seeds
extra sesame oil, cilantro, hot chilies, lime juice, to taste

Mix the dressing ingredients together and set aside to let the flavors meld.

Mix the marinade ingredients into the ground turkey. Mix it thoroughly and let it sit for 30 min. Then saute the turkey over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Rinse the noodles thoroughly in a colander set under running water. As in, really get in there with your hands and scrub all the slimy stuff off the noodles. Drizzle a bit of sesame oil on the noodles and mix well with your hands (this prevents noodles from sticking together while they wait).

Fill the bottom of 4 large noodle bowls with salad greens. Top with julienned cucumbers, bean sprouts (if using), noodles, and ground turkey. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Drizzle with dressing and serve with extra dressing on the side, as well as other condiments such as chopped cilantro, hot chilies, and lime wedges.

IMG_3720

Homegoods Score: Adler-esque Dog

Here’s my latest find from Homegoods!

IMG_3694

There are many times when I’m trolling the aisles of Homegoods and I don’t see a single thing I like. I’m literally – I have a budget that I want to spend, and I can’t find anything I want to buy! #firstworldproblems

On this particular trip I was feeling a bit frustrated because I felt like shoppers were being so rude. Don’t people say “excuse me” anymore? I was pushing my 1-year old around the baby aisle and all these older women (without children) kept pushing past us without even a glance or a word. I had to literally back out of aisles several times so people wouldn’t run right into us, and not even a soft little “sorry” or “excuse me” was to be heard. It could have been the same lady several times, I don’t know. But I was a little ticked off at the world.

Not that this ceramic dog made this all better. But it is rare for me to find something so cute at Homegoods. It almost looks Jonathan Adler-esque. I like the playful graphic pattern on the tail and front leg. And it was budget-friendly at $16.99 too.

Right now he’s guarding the fireplace mantel until I decide where I want him permanently.

DIY Behind-the-Sofa Table

IMG_3604

Chris’ latest woodworking project is done and is now adding a ton more warmth and charm into our living room!

This one was a fast one, thank goodness. No more 4-month-long projects like the family room reno please, at least for a while. This DIY console table (or sofa table, or what have you…) only took Chris a few weeknights to knock out. I think it looks great AND adds a ton of function.

IMG_3609

Chris and I were browsing around at West Elm a while ago and noticed all of the “rustic” furniture that is sooooo trendy right now. You know, the recycled “pallet” furniture look. Chris remarked that he thought building some of those rustic-looking furniture pieces wouldn’t be difficult, so I challenged him to do it!

We actually had a goodly amount of “reclaimed” wood (a.k.a. scrap wood taken out of the house during renovations) and an L-shaped sofa table seemed like just the right project for it. We had been wanting something behind the L-shaped sofa in the living for a while. The sofa was looking kind of tiny all smooshed in the corner of the room and we wanted something to help float it out off the walls.

Before:

IMG_1938

Now:

IMG_3618

The reclaimed wood is all battered and scraped, which is definitely in keeping with this trendy industrial-rustic look.

IMG_3607

Structurally, it’s an incredibly simple piece. We knew it would mostly be hidden behind the sofa so we didn’t bother to finish off the inner sides:

IMG_3594

Here’s what the legs look like in case that helps. The legs were just scrap 2×4’s screwed together and the top/exposed sides are three 1×4’s screwed side by side. The 1×4’s were pretty old and brittle so we had a bit of splitting but nothing too bad.

diy console table

Then we gave it a light sanding with coarse-grit sandpaper just to remove any splinters. It’s definitely pretty bare-bones on the interior.

IMG_3610

But the parts that show look great! The L-shape makes it so unique and perfect for our space.

IMG_3624

You can’t really see it until you get close. But it’s a great place to set a drink and warms up those cool gray walls a TON.

I’m still figuring out how to decorate it. The budget is pretty tight around here so I’m not really looking to buy a ton of new accessories, so I’ll be rummaging through what I have in the house. I did add some of my DIY napkin pillows for a nice pop of color.

IMG_3604

IMPORTANT UPDATE! We have now created plans that will will help you to build this project. Better angles, more info, and measurements! Go take a look at the plans for the DIY sofa table!

Sofa Table

I can’t decide whether we should have built it out longer so it reaches the other side of the window. What do you think? Is this a project you would tackle?

If you like this project, check out our DIY Dining Table too!

diy dining table 3

Sharing over at Not Just a HousewifeThe Shabby Nest, SavvySouthernStyle!

 

A Purely Functional Laundry Nook Update

IMG_3588

I know this photo doesn’t look like much and you’re probably wondering, “Is this a before picture?”, but this little laundry nook update adds a lot of function to the space, and is making my life a whole lot better, even if it doesn’t look pretty.

Whew. Now that’s out of the way, let me explain. Here is the laundry nook sans cabinet.

IMG_0337

Our laundry nook is an unfinished little space that we created when we combined the master bedroom and one of the smaller bedrooms. It is made up of a hallway and a hall closet combined into one, which is why it looks so haphazard.

Since the baby came along, we sectioned this nook off with a baby gate so that she couldn’t get into the detergents and cleaning solutions and poison herself. But I still didn’t feel like this was secure enough.

Luckily, Chris’ brother was discarding a bunch of kitchen cabinets from his new home, which he and his wife are remodeling in a totally modern style. These cabinets were sturdy and in good condition, but not the style they wanted. So we inherited them and they sat in the garage for the better part of a year. Finally, we dusted one of them off and installed it on top of the washing machine to store toxic chemicals.

IMG_3590

Bam! Fast and dirty, functional update.

Of course this room will look a lot better someday, but in the meantime we have so many other projects to do! And it’s working fine right now even if it’s a bit of an eyesore. Imagine it with bright and cheery paint, perhaps even some subway tile, all the seams and corners finished up, and perhaps a pretty laundry-themed piece of wall art.

IMG_3587

So if you’re doing a remodel of your kitchen (or know someone who is), don’t throw away those old cabinets before considering where else in your home they might come in useful! Even if it’s just in the garage for storing tools!

How to Stretch An Oil Painting

oil painting

We’ve got a nice splash of color on one side of the couch with this gorgeous oil painting we brought home from our trip to Hong Kong.

Guess how much we paid for it? I won’t give it away (those vendors need to make a profit) but I will say that it was less than $100. Yes, you have to bargain. But if you’re ever in Hong Kong and stop by Ladies’ Market or the Stanley Market you’ll find hundreds of beautiful oil paintings. Often they are copies done by art students so the skill level will vary, but shop around and you might find something awesome.

We brought it home rolled up in a tube and when I got a quote to have the oil painting professionally stretched and framed, it came to a couple hundred buckeroonies. I wasn’t about to plunk down that much cash when the painting didn’t even cost that much to begin with, so I got good ol’ hubby to help me stretch and wrap it ourselves.

You can buy frames but we decided to make our own out of leftover 1x boards.

IMG_3368-2

IMG_3370-2

The first step is to measure the dimensions of your painting to determine how big your frame will be. Remember to minus the thickness of the wood on each side to account for the edges of the painting that wrap around the frame. Because our painting is quite large, we added braces to the corners.

Professional frames are beveled in on the inner edge of the frame to prevent the shadow of the frame from showing through the painting. We didn’t worry about this.

IMG_3357

Once your frame is done, you’re ready to start stretching.

Lay your canvas painting-side-down on a piece of cardboard or drop cloth, and lay your frame over it.

IMG_3359

Using a staple gun, put a staple in one long side (making sure the painting is aligned) and stretching the canvas gently, put a staple on the opposing side of the frame. Repeat with short sides.

Remember, the canvas was already stretched once before, so don’t pull too hard! Be gentle.

IMG_3360-2

While stretching the canvas gently (just like upholstering a headboard), add staples to each side, moving outward toward the corners. It’s important that you move from the center of each side toward the outer corners to smooth out any ripples. Keep rotating sides to make sure the tension is even.

IMG_3366-2

The corners can be a little tricky. Create a little gusset, just like when you’re wrapping a gift.

IMG_3365-2

Fold over one side and staple down.

IMG_3363-2

Then fold the other side down as tight as you can and staple. Do that for all 4 corners.

IMG_3567

Check out that gorgeous edge.

oil painting

Voila! You’ve just gallery wrapped your own oil painting!

For now, this baby is sitting on an antique table (story of that later) next to the couch. We’re planning to hang it on the wall above the table with a couple of other pieces of art. When we get around to it. You know how it is =).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...