From Entertainment Center To Play Kitchen

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:16 am on Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twice Lovely turned this hideous entertainment center:

into this awesome play kitchen:

The kitchen has a “Tres Chic French theme,” complete with a chandelier, stove, sink, and view out the window.

Best of all, since the entertainment center was free from Craigslist, the whole thing cost about $15 to make.

Like this post on turning a nightstand into a play kitchen, both projects show how imagination can turn old furniture into a great toy for your child’s enjoyment. [Apartment Therapy]

Kitchen Storage Ideas

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:40 am on Monday, January 30, 2012

Better Homes and Gardens has a slideshow on 23 New Kitchen Storage Ideas. For example, there are these nifty corner cabinets:

Or this cool way of hiding the microwave (or another appliance):

Or the cat box:

And check out this roll-out entertainment cart:

That last one could have other uses, too. For example, with a butcher block or a set of cutting boards, the rolling cart could be used for all kitchen prep work to save the stress on the counter.

Read the rest of the Kitchen Storage Ideas here.

Fava Bean Burgers

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 10:28 am on Friday, January 27, 2012

The word “burger” is misleading here. These Fava Bean Brugers are closer to falafel or corn cakes than to hamburgers. In any case, they are tasty and extremely nutritious way to get your vegetables. This recipe works great for winter because you can use fresh or frozen vegetables. The fava beans were leftover from last year’s harvest, as were the jalapeños. You could also use frozen spinach, although you would have to drain out extra water.

The fava bean burger can be the star of dinner or an accompaniment. I served them in pita bread with sour cream, cucumbers, avocado, and lettuce. You could also serve them plain with a little bit of sour cream or as the side to another dish.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Plenty, which is one of the most promising vegetarian cookbooks I’ve come across. If you don’t like fava beans, this recipe would work great with any other similar bean. Lima beans, perhaps?

Fava Bean Burgers

(Serves 4-6)


    3 Tbs olive oil
    1 lb fava beans, shelled
    1 bunch spinach (about 1/2 lb), chopped
    3/4 lb potatoes, diced
    1 jalapeño pepper, diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    3/4 tsp cumin
    3/4 tsp coriander
    3/4 tsp fennel seeds
    1/4 tsp turmeric
    2 Tbs chopped parsley
    6 Tbs breadcrumbs
    1 egg
    Salt and pepper
    Canola oil


Pour the fava beans into salted boiling water. Let boil for about 30 seconds then transfer into an ice bath. Carefully remove the outer skin from the fava bean, like so:

savvyhousekeeping fava bean burgers how to cook butter bean

Set fava beans aside. Add potatoes to boiling water and cook about 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, add the olive oil and garlic. Simmer about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

In a bowl, mix together potatoes, fava beans, all spices, jalapeño, 2 Tbs of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher, then add the spinach, parsley, and breadcrumbs. Transfer the whole thing to a food processor and mix until all the ingredients are integrated. Don’t worry about everything looking uniform and perfect. You may have to work in batches.

Taste and adjust flavors accordingly. Add the egg to the mix.

Now shape into patties about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. Stick in the fridge until they have thoroughly cooled, about 10-20 minutes. (I used this time to clean the messy kitchen.) Finally, cook the patties. Heat a generous amount of canola oil in the bottom of a pan and fry the burgers on high for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and serve as described above.

If there are leftovers, the fava bean burger keeps in the fridge for several days and make a great lunch.


Whale Bookcase

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:22 am on Thursday, January 26, 2012

I love this whale bookcase by designer Justin Southey. What a bummer it doesn’t seem to be for sale. So adorable for a kid’s room. [Apartment Therapy]

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 10:12 am on Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The other day, a friend was telling me about a dish that sounded strange to my Californian ears–a soup made of mushrooms, wild rice, and lavender. She insisted it was good, so I said we should try it.

Turns out the dish was a common one from Minnesota called Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup. As you can tell by the name, the soup uses wild rice (cheaper if you buy in bulk) and about one pound of mushrooms. I used half baby bell mushrooms and half oyster mushrooms.

The lavender is a California twist to the idea and is entirely optional. I happened to have some lavender on my bush outside, and it added a nice floral touch to the dish. In any case, this is a great mid-winter soup, hearty and delicious. And if you use vegetable broth instead of beef broth, it makes a great all-vegetarian entrée.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup


    1 c wild rice
    1 onion, diced
    3 celery stalks, diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    3 Tbs flour
    1 bay leaf
    1 c white wine
    4 c beef broth (or vegetable broth)
    1/4 c cream
    Olive oil
    1 tsp lavender (optional)


Add the rice and 1 tsp of salt to a pot of boiling water. Simmer for 50 minutes until the rice splits and is tender.

Meanwhile, in a soup pot or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon or two of oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook a moment until you begin to smell the garlic. Add the onion, celery, and a sprinkling of salt. Cook until the onions become soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms and another sprinkling of salt. Turn the heat to medium and cook 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms turn brown and have released all their juices.

Next, stir the flour to the vegetables. Turn up the heat and add the white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up any brown bits. Simmer until the wine has reduced by about one-third.

Add the stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the wild rice, cream, and lavender. Simmer 10 more minutes. Add pepper and salt to taste. Enjoy!

Keep Calm and Read A Book Poster

Filed under: Pretty/Cool — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:33 am on Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I never understood the Keep Calm and Carry On poster craze, but I do like this one from Etsy, Keep Calm and Read A Book.

I guess there’s a Keep Calm poster for every interest now. This shop has posters for “Keep Calm and Love Cats,” “Keep Calm and Drink Coffee,” and “Keep Calm and Play Basketball,” among others. $12 each.

Fridge Eat Me First Box

Filed under: Money — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:08 am on Monday, January 23, 2012

Here’s a simple idea from Clossette–make a triage box for your fridge that says what to eat first. It helps organize and focus your eating habits so that you throw less food away, plus it keeps you from buying duplicates because you’re more aware what’s in your fridge. And all that saves money.

From the post:

It’s actually kind of fun trying to come up with a recipe that combines as many of the ingredients in there as possible too. Once I’ve consumed the high-risk items, I populate the triage box with other food that is nearing its shelf life. I haven’t yet run the numbers but I can already tell that I’m saving money and wasting less because I don’t have to throw as many containers in the garbage as I usually do.

I may have to copy this idea.

The Hedgehog Mushroom

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 10:09 am on Friday, January 20, 2012

[Courtesy Bizarre Bites]

As I mentioned in my post about going mushroom foraging, my friend and I found two edible mushrooms, pig’s ear and hedgehog mushrooms. Pig’s ear mushrooms are a breeding ground for maggots and supposedly don’t taste that great, so we didn’t eat them. But we did try the hedgehog mushrooms. And I was impressed.

So, again, mushroom foraging can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s best to do what I did and go with an expert who can help you identify the mushrooms.

However the hedgehog, which grows through the United States and parts of Europe, is a very distinctive mushroom. Its underside has “teeth” that are reminiscent of the coat of a hedgehog. You know, these little guys:

[Courtesy World’s Most Amazing Things]

According to the book All That The Rain Promises and More, the hedgehog mushroom “is a blessing for the novice: it is plentiful in many regions, it is usually free of maggots, and it has no poisonous look-alikes.”

My friend and I cooked the hedgehogs in olive oil with a sprinkling of Kosher salt. As they cooked, the mushrooms turned brown and became slightly crunchy on the outside.

We had tasted the hedgehog mushrooms raw and thought they tasted like a button mushroom with a little bit of spiciness. In other words, not impressive. But cooking them brought out a surprising amount of flavor. They were nutty and crunchy and so good, my friend asked if I had added any herbs in the pan when cooking.

Nope, I said. These mushrooms taste that good on their own.

Needless to say, I am now a fan of hedgehog mushrooms.

5 Things To Do With Lemons

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:47 am on Thursday, January 19, 2012

I have two Meyer lemon bushes outside. With that many lemons coming in every year, I’ve become an expert in what you can do with them.

For instance, here are five things you can do with lemons:

savvyhousekeeping five things to do with lemons bars meringue limoncello lemonade pudding

Lemon Meringue Pie Bars. It’s lemon meringue pie in bar form.

savvyhousekeeping five things to do with lemons bars meringue limoncello lemonade pudding

Make Your Own Limoncello. It’s surprisingly easy to make this delightful digestivo–especially if you compare it to the price of limoncello in the store.

savvyhousekeeping five things to do with lemons bars meringue limoncello lemonade pudding

Perfect Lemonade. I am always surprised how few people have tasted lemonade made from scratch.

savvyhousekeeping five things to do with lemons bars meringue limoncello lemonade pudding

Lemon Bars. A classic. Great with coffee, too.

savvyhousekeeping five things to do with lemons bars meringue limoncello lemonade pudding

Lemon Pudding Cake. A soft, silky dessert that “mysteriously divides into a quivery layer of lemon custard on the bottom and a light a spongy cake on top,” according to the Joy of Cooking.

Need more lemon ideas? Check out 100 Things To Do With Lemons.

3 Clever Pre-made Food Ideas

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 10:32 am on Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One of the things that helps my life be easier is to make food ahead of time and store it in serving sizes. Usually this means dividing soup or an entrée into freezer-safe containers and pulling them out as needed. It’s frugal and saves time. Call it homemade convenience food.

Here are three clever pre-made food ideas:

Pre-made Freezer Smoothies. The Tidy Nest divided berries and frozen yogurt into serving-sized plastic bags and stuck them in the freezer. All you have to do in the morning is grab one and dump it in the blender for a quick, nutritious breakfast.

Pre-made Manhattans For Burning Man. Brady Forrest made 80 Manhattans and vacuum-sealed them in individual bags that could later be opened and poured into a glass. He even added a dried cherry in each one. A great idea for camping. (Note: Boing Boing is down to protest the SOPA bill. It will be back up tomorrow.)

Salad In A Jar. If you want to bring a salad in your lunch, keep them from getting soggy by layering the ingredients in a jar. If you layer it just right, you can make the salads ahead of time and grab a jar on your way out the door in the morning.

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