February 2014 ~ Diane's Vintage Zest!

Spicy Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing

A spicy spin on my Cornbread Stuffing that EVERYONE loves!

Sweet Potato Souffle for Thanksgiving

One of my most popular recipes EVER, and just in time for Thanksgiving!

DIY Painted Photo Backdrops

Super easy backdrops for your photo, plus a few tips!

Golden Sweet Corn Bread Mini Muffins

A sweet spin on traditional cornbread!

Easy Sweet Potato Pie (without a crust!)

The easiest (and healthiest) pumpkin pie recipe ever!

Weekly Wrap-Up: Furniture Shopping & Late Night Eats!

For some reason, I completely forgot last week to include my late night Thursday dinner with my friend, so we'll have to do a mini-rewind for that!

Otherwise, it was a pretty relaxed weekend because I have been completely busy with all of my work, classes, and more.  Whew!

  • Eats: Amor Y Tacos, Frostbites Crepes & Frozen Delights
  • Activities: Woodworking, Furniture shopping

Amor Y Tacos

After one of my evening classes, I met up with one of my gal pals to try out Amor Y Tacos nearby.  What a great find!  As you can guess, it is a Mexican restaurant, but the dishes are extremely inventive and interesting.

My dish was the Doritos Chilaquiles, and you can see even more on The Episodic Eater here!  Check out the decor, I mean it's pretty awesome!

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Afterwards, we had some sweet treats from Frostbites Crepes & Frozen Delights.  This looks pretty normal, but you wouldn't believe the flavor combinations they have!  Here are the ones we tried, but there were other amazing flavors like Flintstones Push Pop, Almond Joy, and Sour Gummy Worm.  Yum!  Find out which flavors we tried on The Episodic Eater.  You'll be surprised!  :)

Now back to this week!  This is my very first woodworking project, and although we are done with it in class, I am about to do some work on it at home.  I'm still trying to decide, but I'll figure it out eventually.  :)

Tip: How to Drain Cans Quicker!

A few weeks ago when I was making my Big Game Chili, I made twice the recipe so I had tons of cans to open, drain, and repeat.  Well, I was using my usual trick of draining them quicker and apparently it was something that my guy had never seen before and I thought that it would be a neat little tip to share with you!

Also, not only does this tip help with draining your cans quicker, it helps to cut down on the number of dishes you wash and cuts down on the amount of counter or sink space that a regular colander would take up.  Great!

In the old days, I would take the cans and dump the contents into a colander.  Then, it would sit there, taking up space in the sink or on the counter.  If I had lots of cans to drain, I would have to  dump half of them into another bowl just to be able to get them all done.  That meant even more dishes to wash, besides having to figure out where to store them until the recipe was ready!

With one little item, I figured out how to wash fewer dishes, take up less counter space, and drain all the cans really quickly!  Also, I didn't have to go out and buy another kitchen gadget to take up more drawer space.  :)  What is it?

It's a...

Crochet Rewind: Hats, Scarves & Blankets!

Remember how last year I shared the crocheted pouch for my external hard drive and mentioned that it would be my only crochet rewind?  Well, I have a little bit of a surprise for you!  I was thinking about how I have a definite lack of crafts on my blog, compared to the amount of recipes and food posts, so I wanted to share this all with you today!

I started crocheting my freshman year of college and thought it was really fun!  I have given it up in favor of sewing recently, only because I have more than enough warm items to wear, as you can see below, and I do live in California!  However, I realized after meeting Kate of Small & Great, there are so many other items to crochet and I am inspired to take it up again soon!

By the way, these are items that I had on hand to photograph, and you might have seen a couple of these in my Closet Clean-Out post already.  Let's take a peek!


I actually have two of these identically ones because I had enough yarn in the skein to make a couple.  Although I only have two here, I actually once made about 80 of them one holiday season for our entire student government staff!  It was ridiculous!

I use these whenever it gets cold inside the house to avoid turning on the heater.  :)

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I decided to experiment with some extra green yarn and make a beret!  I also aded a little button flower, just for a bit of a cute factor.

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Here is the underside.  Neat!

Mardi Gras Post Round-up!

Every week at Do Tell Tuesday, there are always so many great projects linked up!  As a bonus to the regular party features, I thought that I would put together themed feature posts, like the ones I did for Valentine's DayNational Banana Bread Day and a Perfect Day of Recipes.

I hope you enjoy these, because you are seriously all so talented that I can't help but feature even more of you!

This week, I wanted to get us all in the mood for Mardi Gras, which is happening next week.  Let's go!

First, I wanted to take you through my tour of New Orleans from last year, just to get everyone in the mood!  Check out the delicious food below from Po'Boys, Oysters Rockefeller, Alligator Cheesecake, Bread Pudding, Beignets, Baked Alaska, and Gumbo!  There's actually even more on the post!

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And the beautiful sights, architecture, and fun things around town were just as awesome.  Check it out!

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Are you in the mood for some Mardi Gras recipes and decor now?  Let's get to it!

Perfect for starting your Mardi Gras off deliciously!

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So beautiful!

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This looks just wonderful!

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What a lovely treat!

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Even more delicious sweetness!

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I hope you have a fun, non-scandalous Mardi Gras!  And as they say in New Orleans...

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Do Tell Tuesday #12 with Features, Co-Host & Giveaway!

I am so excited that you can be here my favorite day of the week!  Click here for the full rundown on how to participate and...

Welcome to Do Tell Tuesday!

Today is exciting because we have a guest co-host today!  Say hello to Becky!

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Hello there!  I'm Becky from My Paper Craze, a bloggy-duo that I enjoy with my partner-in-crime {aka Mom}.  We love searching on Pinterest, as well as inventing and experimenting!  Our blog goal is posting {REAL} crafts for {REAL} life, so be sure to hop on over for home décor, kids crafts, holiday inspiration and {MORE}!

Visit Becky & say hello!

Blog  //  Facebook  //  Instagram  //  Pinterest  //  Bloglovin'

Recently seen on Vintage Zest...

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Easy Eggplant Parmesan (From the Freezer!)

Happy National Banana Bread Day!  A Recipe Round-Up and More!

Challenge #5: A Simple Top

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Kitchen Basics: How to Cut a Melon

Weekly Wrap-Up: Valentine's Day & feeling sick...

Concrete Geometric feature & GIVEAWAY!

Enter  on the post or below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

All of us hosts and guest host pick our own features, and we all share the most viewed link too.  If you are all ready to see the features, here we go!

Simple, No-Fail Hand Pie Crust!

Remember last year when I went to Europe?  For the first few legs in London and Paris, I was joined by my friend, who shares my love of pies and sweets!

So that meant when we had some free time in the kitchen one weekend, we were ready to tackle a fun project...making our own pie crust from scratch!  Actually, I had made some a couple of times before, but I did not have a tried-and-true recipe.  Also, those were either breadier recipes for calzones or regular pie crust recipes, and I had my heart set and making hand pies!  Now, having made this recipe a few times now, I am ecstatic to say that I have a new favorite pie crust, and I even passed it on to my mother who gave her stamp of approval!  Awesome!

So along with the original recipe, I will add my own notes for both good and bad variations that I have made since.  Let's get to it!

Simple No-Fail Pie Crust!

Sunday Synopsis!

Happy Sunday!

No Stumped on Sunday question for today, so let's just get straight to the synopsis!  I am doing some furniture shopping today, so I will leave you with a nice picture from our time at Retro Row...  :)

Here are last week's posts in case you missed any.  :)

Sunday Synopsis!

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Concrete Geometric feature & GIVEAWAY!

For today's Shop Small Saturday Showcase feature, I am super excited to share with you one of my favorites!  As you know, I love succulents and you might remember the unique planter I got at Patchwork Santa Ana a few months ago.  Well, it was from Concrete Geometric and I am happy to say that it is still as lovely as ever, the plant included.  :)  Today, I am happy to share with you even more of the beautiful creations of Concrete Geometric!

Get to know Krizia, the owner and creator of these gems, in the interview below and then make sure to stay tuned until the end of the post. Why?

Because she's having a giveaway of one of her fabulous mini hanging planters with an air plant.  Awesome!  I would be jealous, except I am already a happy owner of one of her creations.  However, the gold-painted ones are calling my name...  :)


Tell me a little bit about yourself!

Hey, I'm Krizia and I make geometric concrete goods. I’m a full time photographer and make concrete things on the side.  I’ve always kind of made things here and there.  If it wasn’t for looking up how to rig camera things for my photography, it was making something to hang on my wall.  As a kid I grew up with parents who were very d.i.y which is where I think I got that from.

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Where did the name of your store come from?

It was actually the first thing that came to mind. I wanted something that was to the point so it wouldn’t be forgotten easily.

Why did you start making goods for Concrete Geometric?

My store came from the idea of geometric shapes. I was really inspired by an artist by the name of A Common Name.  Soon after I found out about her I started folding tons of shapes.  One day I decided to figure out a way to pour concrete in.  After much trial and error I found ways to make the inside big enough to hold succulents.

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What is your favorite item?

Weekly Wrap-Up: Valentine's Day & feeling sick...

Just after last week's recap, I was pretty much under the weather the whole week!

  • Sights:  Being sick :( and catching up online!  :)
  • Eats:  ARC Food & Libations, The Crooked Duck

Valentine's Day Dinner @ ARC Food & Libations

Well, Friday was Valentine's Day, and I was feeling ridiculously awful.  I barely made it through the day, so our plans had to be postponed.  Just before my guy left work, I told him that I was going to do my best to scrounge up the last of my energy for a semi-special dinner with him.  We ended up catching a last-minute table at ARC Food & Libations, which we last went to in August.

My guy ordered his drink, called Coffee & Cigarettes...

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...and we ordered this spread and more!  Check it all out here on The Episodic Eater!

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Over the whole weekend, I ended up being really sick at home.  :(  Sniffles like crazy!  I did not have any food at home, so I had a bunch of people coming over with food and care packages in between naps.  So nice!

In the meantime, I ended up going through all of my e-mails and whittled them down from 700+ to under 50.  Yesss!  I even received a funny picture from my guy again with another weird Rick Owens outfit.  Remember the first one?

Kitchen Basics: How to Cut a Melon!

I have been eating melons, blending melonsbuying melons, and cutting melons like crazy!  I usually precut a whole melon and eat it over the next few days.  We were out of melon and I was busy, so my guy wanted instructions on how to cut a melon.

Well, he thought it was going to be hard, but when he found out it was so easy, he thought it would be a good idea to make a post for everyone who has never cracked into one of these on their own.  I have my own method, which is super fast and easy enough for a beginner to master.


What You Will Need

  • Your melon
  • A cutting board or mat that will not slip
  • A large knife
  • Medium to large spoon
  • Optional: Garbage bowl, for easy clean-up

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1.  Try to position the melon on the cutting board so it is not too "wobbly" before you cut into it.

Challenge #5: A Simple Top!

Welcome to our first challenge of 2014!  It is a brand new year for our sewing group and if you don't know about us yet, click here to learn about Stitch Once, Rip Twice.  You'll find some general information about us, how to join, and links to our past challenges.  Fun!

For our last Mad About Plaid Challenge, we only had a few members finish projects in time for the round-up, so we decided to make things a bit easier this time.  The next assignment for our sewing group members is the...

The Rules
  1. Your simple top can be for yourself or someone else, and there's no restriction to which pattern, fabric, or style!
  2. It can be made from scratch or refashioned, just as long as you use your sewing skills!
  3. Share anything you would like on your blog or on the group's Facebook page along the way.  That includes patterns, techniques, inspiration, project ideas, problems, and in-progress pictures.
  4. Have your finished garment done and posted by March 15th either on your personal blog or on the Facebook page.  The week after the deadline, I'll put together a wrap-up post with everyone's finished garments so we can all see!

Also, if you have a blog, post the button above by grabbing the code below!

Normally, I would show a few inspiration images, but it's really not difficult to come up with a good idea for a simple top!  Instead, I will share a few collages of the patterns from my collection, plus a couple of ideas that I am kicking around right now.

I have about twelve tops in my pattern collection, half of which I definitely don't want to sew because the pattern is too intricate, or just plain ugly.  As you may remember, I have been gifted patterns in the past, which is why I still own them!  The patterns below are in my "no" pile.

Happy National Banana Bread Day! Recipe Round-Up and More!

You may not know that National Banana Bread Day is a few days away on February 23rd, and I thought it would be a good idea to give you guys a few recipes to celebrate with!

However, seven different banana bread recipes did not seem like a fun idea for a post...  So here is a round-up of unique and alternative banana bread recipes plus a cute little extra project linked up to Do Tell Tuesday over the past few weeks.

Let's take a peek!

I decided to pick out a variety recipes and projects for this round-up.  Basically, I have a different recipe for if you: want to make something healthy, want something more decadent, prefer smaller treats to a loaf, want to sneak some veggies to your kids, don't have ripe bananas on hand, or don't even like bananas!

First up, this recipe is for people who love cupcakes over cake or just like a pre-portioned bit of sweetness.  It is topped with my favorite ever cream cheese frosting.  :)  This was my first ever feature and one of my most popular recipes in 2013!  It is super easy and whips up quick in a blender.  Check it out!

Want a healthier version of the classic recipe?  Try this one made with whole wheat flour!

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This one from my co-host Alicia sneaks broccoli into these muffins, and it is kid-approved.  You'll want to see the picture proof of her little one enjoying these gems!

Do Tell Tuesday #11 with Features & Co-Host!

I am so excited that you can be here my favorite day of the week!  Click here for the full rundown on how to participate and...

Welcome to Do Tell Tuesday!

Today is exciting because we have two guest co-hosts today!  Say hello to Jeanette & Leigh!

My name is Jeanette Sumruld and I blog along with my daughter Leigh at Crafty In Crosby.  We are a crafty Mom & Daughter duo with a love of frugal crafting, Pinterest, cooking, decorating on a dime and all things creative.  Our favorite holiday is Halloween and we spend several months working on decorations for our annual party. Not only do we craft together, we also work together! I have been truly blessed to have such a wonderful daughter, who is also my friend!

Visit Jeanette & Leigh to say hello!

Blog  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Pinterest - Jeanette  //  Pinterest - Leigh  //  Bloglovin'  //  Tumblr

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See Kim Feature & Promo Code!

All of us hosts and guest host pick our own features, and we all share the most viewed link too.  If you are all ready to see the features, here we go!

Easy Eggplant Parmesan (From the Freezer!)

I have been really nervous to post this recipe, because in actuality, it is more of a process and less of a step-by-step, from scratch recipe.  However, it is just too delicious to not share and I'm sure that you will like it!

You may think that this eggplant came from the recent trip to my favorite supermarket.  However, this is actually an eggplant from about a month ago, which I was able to use in this quick recipe using my super easy trick!

So what is my trick?  I freeze the eggplant, but not how you would expect!  It is a complete fluke how I figured it out, but I'm so glad that I did because it makes putting this dish together super quick on the day of.  In fact, it takes less than 10 minutes to whip up the entire dish after pulling the eggplant out of the freezer.  Really!

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Easy Eggplant Parmesan (from the Freezer!)

A Vintage Zest original