butternut squash stuffed shells.

STUFFEDSHELLS.jpgButternut squash. I want to use it, but don’t always know how. Pasta. The possibilities are endless. I absolutely love this meal – I was able to prepare the filling items over the weekend, making it a pretty quick meal to throw together during the week. Will be making this again and again! These came out creamy, garlick-y and sweet. Super delicious!

Here is the original recipe.

  • 1½ cups cubed butternut squash
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 16 jumbo shells
cashew cream
  • 1 cup raw cashews (soak ahead of time if you dont have a vitamix)
  • 3/4 cup fresh water
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 3½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup crumbled firm tofu
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup cashew cream (from the recipe above)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Make the cashew cream: Blend together the drained raw cashews, fresh water, garlic, lemon juice, and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  3. Make the filling: In a medium skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the spinach in increments, along with a pinch of salt, and sauté until all the spinach is incorporated and wilted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid and chop. In a medium bowl, combine the the spinach with the crumbled tofu, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup of cashew cream. Season generously with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain.
  5. Assemble the shells. Spread ¼ cup of the reserved cashew cream on the bottom of an 11×7-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with some of the filling and a few cubes of butternut squash, and place into the baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over the shells and bake for 15 minutes, or until browned on top and heated through. Remove from the oven and serve with the remaining cashew cream.






This year for christmas, I gifted aprons to my co workers, and some of milo’s teachers. Here you will see three of them. They are reversible! I sort of made the pattern up and winged it, but the basis is this:

You need two rectangles – each from different fabric. 26×22 inches (you can go bigger or smaller if youd like, depending on body type)
Put these right sides together and sew, all but the top of the apron. Turn inside out, so the right side fabrics are showing. Iron.
With your basting stitch, make a running stitch along the top and pull the loose thread to sort of gather the apron a bit.

Make waistband – cut from two fabrics something about 2-4 inches (depending how thick you want it )x54 inches. You can join the fabrics together if the fabric isnt long enough. With right sides together, pin and stitch the strips together along one of the long sides. Turn the right way out and press.

Press about 1/4-1/2 inch of the bottom of the other side in. Lay the gathered edge of the apron skirt inside the center of the waistband, placing up from the edge a bit and pin into place. Be sure to align the bottom of the waistband from both sides of the apron (this is tricky, so take your time). Sew the remaining seams shut and be careful because you will see it on the other side as well.

seasame chocolate chip cookies.


These cookies are going down as one of my absolute favorites. I mean – I love a good chocolate chip cookie, and i love what seasame seeds do to help make these stand out.  ….And seasame seeds are healthy, right?!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) earth balance, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Ener-g egg replacer mixed with water, equal to two eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 to 1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
Coarse sea salt

Prepare your cookie sheets and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together earth balance and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3–5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg replacer mixed with water and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about 1–2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and soy sauce. Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the earth balance mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined. Add the sesame seeds and chocolate chunks and fold together with a spatula until well combined.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 1/4 cup black sesame seeds in a small bowl.
Scoop cookie dough by the heaping tablespoonful. Roll into a ball and coat with black sesame seeds. Place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container.



colored bottle brush trees.

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Ok, I’m back at the bottle brush tree making. After finding these trees at menards for such a good deal ($1.49 for the big ones, $.74 for the medium sized and $.74 for a pack of two small ones) I knew I had to give this a try. Plus my mantle needed a few more trees….right?

Rubber Gloves
Rit Dye (I found mine at joanne fabrics for $1.84 a box)
Bottle Brush treesIMG_9740.JPG

1. Make sure you are wearing gloves and clothes that you dont mind if they get dirty/ruined! Fill your bucket with about 3 cups water, 1 cup bleach. Dip your trees in there and give them a good swishing until the color strips off.  Be mindful of how  long you leave it in there, the bleach will eat away the brush bristles on your tree. This should only take a few minutes. Rinse the bleach off your trees.


2. Prepare your dye. I used about 2-3 cups hot water and about half the package of dye. Dip your trees in for as little or long as you’d like. Let them dry, and then I used a bottle brush to actually “comb” my bristles back into place.

What do you think? Overkill, or just want the mantel needed?
Found original tutorial here.

snowman frame ornament.

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Every year I try to make an ornament with milo for our tree, and one that he can give to his grandmothers as gifts as well. This year we made these little snowman tree, using popsicle sticks, foam pieces and a photo from this year.

Popsicle sticks
White paint
Foam pieces
Hot glue
Twine or string
Photo from this year
Elmers glue

You need there popsicle sticks for each ornament.I cut one in half for the sides of the frame.

Have your child paint the sticks white. Add glitter if you’d like. While they are drying – Cut out all your foam pieces. I cut out two mittens, two boots, a head and a hat. Have your child draw a face on the snowman. We just used marker to do this.

Glue your sticks together, then add the foam pieces. Cut a piece of foam a little larger than the size of the frame. Using elmers glue, Glue the photo to the square foam piece, and then glue this whole piece to the back of the popsicle stick frame.

Add some twine or string to the top and hang on your tree!

See previous years ornaments I’ve made with milo:

2013 and here

feather tree.

More trees for my mantle! I wanted more texture to break it up a bit – and these did the trick. This was an easy craft using random feathers I already had from craft materials passed along to me.

Kraft paper, styrofoam cone, cardstock, or posterboard
Hot glue

I used some kraft paper and rolled it up in a cone shape and glue it together. I then started at the bottom, using my larger feathers first, and used my hot glue gun to glue them all in a row. Then I started the second later, and so forth, until I got to the top. I used all white, tan and some light pink feathers to kind of break it up a bit.

sugar cookies.


Christmas season means cookie season! These star wars cookies seem to be our new annual cookie tradition. I tried out anew recipe this year, and we dyed the dough green instead of making frosting.

Found original recipe here and I halved it below for our cookie needs.

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
1/8 cup vanilla soymilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In large bowl, beat powdered sugar, the margarine, soymilk, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed to combine. Stir in flour, cornstarch and baking soda until blended. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray. Divide dough in half. Roll each dough half to1/4 inch thickness on generously floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with 2- to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutters. On cookie sheet, place cutouts about 2 inches apart. Add sprinkles now if you arent doing icing.

Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

holiday glitter banner.


I had the idea to hang a banner of sorts over my mantle to tie it all together. I love how it turned out, and it hasn’t fallen down yet!

Here’s what I did:
Computer and printer
mod podge
twine or ribbon
Heavy duty tape
Foam brush
Cardstock, or some kind of heavier paper

1. Type out your letters each to fill a 8.5×11 page of paper. I used the font matilda, which you can purchase here.

2. Print the letters out using a printer; Then I roughly cut around the letters and placed on top of the cardstock. Using it as a stencil, I cut the letters out of the cardstock.

3. Spread mod podge on each letter, small sections at a time because it tends to dry quickly – and sprinkle glitter all over the letters

4. Let dry and then Tape twine of some sort to the back. Hang it when you are ready and enjoy!

bottle brush trees.


I really wanted my mantel to be filled with all kinds of christmas trees, so I was searching for some ideas on how to make my own. Two years ago, I made these simple yarn trees, but my mantel looked bare and I felt like I needed more!

I made two more yarn trees this year, but I found this tutorial on how to make your own bottle brush trees.

The tutorial says you can use all kinds of textiles to make this work, but I found that really fluffy yarn or garland seems to work best. These also need some trial and error. They feel like you are making a complete mess, but after some trimming and scrunching, they seem to turn out, so keep trimming.

Heres what you need:

  1. Pliers, wire snippers, scissors
  2. wire (i used flower wire )
  3. fluffy yarn, twine, garland, rope,
  4. wine corks
  • Wrap yarn or garland around a glass or a styrofoam cone. Your tree will come out alot smaller than what you start with, so keep this in mind.
  • Cut a piece of wire Carefully remove your yarn or garland from the cone or cup and carefully cut a length of wire a bit longer than the length of your wrapped up tree. fold the wire in half and slip through the middle and over your pile of rope
  • Pinch each end of your wire with the pliers and give a few twists. You can then drop one pair of pilers and twist with your hand, until you feel it is tight enough. Make sure your stump is well twisted. At this point it will look terrible, like a fat pom pom. I pressed the middle of the tree with the pliers so that no threads are falling out.
  • Give your tree a hair cut. Keep trimming and fluffing until it is starting to resemble a tree. Cut a wine cork (in a slice for small trees and lengthways for larger trees) poke wire into the cork to stand your tree.

pecan pie.


I wanted to try a new kind of pie for thanksgiving; wasn’t feeling the pumpkin this year – and whoah! Im so glad I did because this pie is amazing. Definitely take your time when making the caramel. I set a timer and whisked it the whole time.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
6 oz extra firm silken tofu (1/2 of a pack)
1/4 cup cold unsweetened plain non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecan halves

Prepared Single Pastry Crust, pressed into a tart pan or pie plate (no need to parbake)

First we’re going to make a caramel. In a 2 quart sauce pan, mix together sugars and maple syrup. Heat over medium heat, stirring often with a whisk. Once small bubbles start rapidly forming, stir pretty constantly for about 10 minutes. The mixture should become thick and syrupy. It shouldn’t be boiling too fiercely, if it starts climbing the walls of the pan in big bubbles then lower the heat a bit.

Add the margarine, and stir to melt. Turn the heat off, transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the filling, working quickly so that the caramel doesn’t completely set.

Crumble the tofu into a blender or food processor, along with the milk, cornstarch and salt. Puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender to make sure you get everything.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

With the caramel still warm in teh mixing bowl, add in the tofu mixture and the vanilla, and mix well. Fold in the pecans to incorporate.

Transfer to prepared pie crust and bake for 40 minutes. The pie is going to be somewhat jiggly, but it should appear to be set.

Recipe found here.