Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

I love Mexican food. If someone told me I had to pick one nationality of food to eat for the rest of my life, Italian and Mexican would have to duke it out, but Mexican food would probably win. I am always so happy when I see a tub of green tomatillo salsa in the salsa bar at a restaurant! Awhile back, I spent an hour or so reading a bunch of different tomatillo salsa recipes. I mashed my favorite aspect of each recipe together, and this is what I came up with. It is seriously yummy, and great on tacos or chips!

Ingredients:

1 lb. tomatillos
2 jalapenos
2 medium onions
2-4 cloves of garlic
1 bunch cilantro
2-4 avocados
1-3 Tablespoons Black pepper
2-6 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1-2 teaspoons Cumin
Lime juice, or 2-4 limes
Olive oil, spray or liquid
Cayenne pepper, or hot sauce, optional

Husk and rinse the tomatillos. Open and de-seed the jalapenos. (I prefer to buy jalapenos with a rounded tip, because those are milder in heat than jalapenos with a pointy tip.) Peel and slice the onions in half. Put the tomatillos, onions, and jalapenos on a baking sheet, spray or drizzle lightly with olive oil, and roast at 450 degrees for 5-15 minutes, until the onions and tomatillos change color a bit. If you are fancy, you can also peel and roast your garlic cloves on the same sheet.


Meanwhile, peel your avocados and rinse your cilantro. When everything is done roasting, throw the jalapenos, garlic, and cilantro into a food processor or blender. I start with one heaping handful of cilantro, and add as I go, if needed. (I like to use my Ninja blender for this step.) Pulse a few times. Add the tomatillos and onions. Pulse again. Add salt. This recipe takes a lot of salt! I start out with 2 tablespoons of coarse Kosher salt, and work my way up from there. Add lime juice. I use about 2-4 Tablespoons for the whole recipe. Just like the salt, start with 2 Tablespoons, and work your way up from there. Add black pepper, to taste. Add the cumin, about 1-2 teaspoons.

Puree like crazy. Add 2 avocados, puree again, and taste. If this tastes bland to you, add more salt and more cilantro. If you want it creamier, add another avocado. If you want it spicier, add a dash or two of Cayenne pepper, or a dash or two of hot sauce. Put it into a bowl, cover and refrigerate. And then, nom, nom, nom...

A Year of Change Challenge

Hi, y'all!
Hop on over to Kari Joy to learn about an exciting challenge called The Year of Change! I'm participating as a guest designer this month---hurray! All the details are here. We hope you'll click on over and check it out!



Peanut Butter Pie


On Valentine’s Day, I made my honey a peanut butter pie. (Forgive the cell phone picture.) There were some selfish motivations behind this invention, I will admit. Whenever I go to visit my sister in Fort Collins, I request that we get peanut butter pie at this little dessert place downtown. Their peanut butter pie is AMAZING. I really wanted to recreate this dessert at home. I came up with something that was sinfully rich and delicious. Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Kill Them With Kindness Peanut Butter Pie



2 graham cracker crusts
1 bag bittersweet chocolate chips
1 small container heavy whipping cream
1 jar peanut butter (get the full-fat, full-sugar, full-salt kind.)
1 regular-size container of Cool Whip (get the extra creamy kind, if they have it.)
1 block cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 king-size packs of Reese’s peanut butter cups


Making a ganache is the simplest thing in the world. Pour the whole bag of chips into a large glass bowl. Boil 1.5 cups of the cream on the stove, and watch it. The second it starts to boil and froth, take it off the stove, pour into the chips, and whisk, whisk, whisk until it is ganache. Treat yourself to a fingerful for all of your hard work.


Pour a good amount of the ganache into the bottom of each graham cracker crust. You want about ¼ to a ½ cup left in the bowl when you are done, for the topping. If you don’t want any ganache on top, divide evenly. Put both crusts into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.


While those are chilling, mix the cream cheese, peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, and the remaining cream with a hand mixer, until it is thoroughly mixed and creamy. Try it with a spoon, and make sure it passes muster.


When the ganache is sufficiently cooled, about 30 minutes, add the peanut butter goodness to the crusts, and smooth with a rubber spatula. Top with the cool whip, and add some ganache to the top in fancy swirls, (or big, uneven globs, if you are me.) Chop the peanut butter cups and add those to the top as well, (‘cause this dessert just does not have enough calories without those.)


Cover and chill until serving. 

Things I am going to try next time: I am going to get another container of Cool Whip, and try whipping some of that into the peanut butter mix, to see if I can get it fluffier, and creamier. Or, maybe I will just whip the sugar and the heavy cream together until it is whipped cream, and then add those other ingredients. (Hmmm....) It was super-good the first time, but I always think things can be better!

The Babs Blog Business Cards

Okay, let's talk Altitude Summit.
Yes, I'm late on this!  Weeks late, in fact.  I was going to get back from Alt and tear into this blog like nobody's business.  Alas, life happened.  So, I'm tardy on this blog once again.  (sigh)

The business cards at Alt are a big deal.  You have all these wonderful creative people in one place, and all of them are trying to present something business-card-wise that best represents their blog, their brand, their values.  So, in thinking up an idea for a Babs Blog business card, we thought we would do something fun, crafty, and useful.  (Those are three adjectives that we think are good descriptors of what we do here at the Babs Blog).

So, we made business cards with handmade earrings:

You know what?  Those earrings are made out of shrinky dinks.  Seriously.  No lie.  We wanted to take an ordinary kids craft material and turn it into something pretty.  (Tutuorial to come).

First of all, I have to say that my mom, Babs (yes, the namesake of this blog), was by far the major reason that this project got completed.  She worked her fingers to the bone on this one!  I am so grateful for her help.  She glued and glued and glued and glued.  And all she required was wine and chocolate.


I think nearly all of the pairs of earrings turned out different from each other.  We mixed and matched---it was quite fun!





We punched holes through our business cards and placed a pair of earrings on each one:

Then, we put the card and the earrings in these cute little mini bags with black polka dots.  The bags helped protect the earrings in transit.  Flying with a whole bunch (150-ish) was no easy task.  I'm super grateful for my travel buddy, Jen Little, who was kind enough to stuff my box of these business cards in her suitcase so I wouldn't have to carry them on the plane!

Here are some closeups of a handful of my very favorite earrings:




I've had so many nice people from Alt reach out and say thanks for their earrings!  It feels great that there are a handful of folks out there actually wearing what we made---so fun!  If you got a pair of these at Alt and are sporting them, please let us know!  We'd love to see what they look like on!  (If you instagram your earrings, use the hashtag #thebabsblog)
Also, I've done a recap of Altitude Summit in a couple posts over at Kari Joy.  If you're interested in hearing more about Alt, head on over!

The Babs Blog at ALT


Hi, folks!  I've just returned from ALT Summit in Salt Lake City.  What a wonderful few days!  The parties!  The clothes!  The speakers!  The business cards!  So many fun things to chat about when it comes to ALT!  See that picture above?  Those were the business cards I passed out for the Babs Blog.  Jill, Mom, and I made sooooo many pairs of these earrings (made out of shrinky sinks!)  These got a great response from many kind ladies at ALT, and it was fun to see these earrings being worn around the summit!  Stay tuned for a tutorial on how we made these earrings coming up this week.  Also coming up this week?  More details on ALT!  Until then, have a very happy Monday!


The Cheap & Chic Thanksgiving Table

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is in ONE WEEK?!?!  It's crazy the way this fall has flown by!  Perhaps you are realizing that, in just one itty bitty week, you'll have guests descending upon your home for Thanksgiving dinner.  And, just maybe, you are also realizing that you are soooo not ready.

Take heart!  One of the most important things we've learned by being Babs' daughters is that graciousness trumps perfection.  (Our mom is great at this.  We are still learning!)  If you are warm and inviting, if you are calm and collected, if you are quick to offer a smile and a glass of wine to your guests, if you are putting conversation and laughter over having a Martha Stewart-worthy bash---well, you are ready.  The rest is secondary.

That being said, we have some super fast and very inexpensive ideas for you to gussy up that Thanksgiving table (just in case you are hoping to offer a pretty place for your guests to gobble down green bean casserole and pecan pie!)

Let's start with the simple stuff!
Below, you'll see a plain-jane white place setting.  Notice the tablecloth!  Often, Thanksgiving meals are spread out on a much larger table than you usually use.  The leaves are put in, the Lifetime folding tables from Costco are set up, and then you realize that you don't have table linens to stretch across ALL THAT TABLE AREA.  A really easy solution to this is to buy some inexpensive fabric.  Calculate the yardage you need to cover your tables, and get a length cut to fit.  You don't even need to get out the sewing machine to hem the fabric.  Use Fabric-Tac to hem the ends, or better yet---leave yourself a little extra yardage to fold the unfinished ends under.  Easy-peasy.  The striped fabric below is from Ikea.  No, it's not "traditional Thanksgiving," but you'll see how it creates a fun background for the oranges and yellows of pumpkins and squash:

Next, we show a couple different elements that are quite easy to add to each place setting.  If you are doing assigned seats, consider placing a chipboard initial on top of each plate.  We got our initials from Hobby Lobby for cheap!  You might also do something as simple as putting a lone pumpkin at each place.  If you are feeling a little more ambitious (but not too ambitious!) create individual floral arrangements.  The milk glass cup we used came from Goodwill and the flowers were an inexpensive grocery store bunch to which we added fall leaves from the front yard.

Feeling a little more ambitious?  Add gold dots to the chipboard initial using a metallic paint pen!

Another easy idea:  mini chalkboards or frames (think Dollar Store or Hobby Lobby) with Thanksgiving sayings written in a chalk pen:

A quick trip in Goodwill often will yield fun results.  Look for short candle holders and use them to perch pumpkins at each place setting. We also found cute burlap bags at Hobby Lobby that we filled with wrapped candies.  Add a personalized tag, and you have a cute way to assign seating:

Jill found these adorable hedgehogs in a pack of 3 at Hobby Lobby!  They were just a couple bucks for all three, and they add a sense of whimsy to each place setting:



You'll notice that we also swapped out the fabric for kraft paper.  This is a great alternative to table linens!  And, here's a hint:  If you want rolls of kraft paper, don't EVER buy it at a craft store.  Buy it at Home Depot!  It's in the paint section and it's called "contractor's paper" or something like that.  You get about five times the amount on the roll for about 1/3 the price.  (Seriously, I buy rolls of this stuff.  I use it to wrap gifts, protect the floor when I'm painting, etc.  It's handy and so inexpensive!)

Another simple place setting is a pumpkin with a name tag tied to its stem:

One of my most favorite things to find at Goodwill would be brass candlesticks.  I love putting mismatched candlesticks in groupings around my home.  Antiqued brass is so warm and wonderful!  On a Thanksgiving table, consider forgoing candles and perching pumpkins atop the candlesticks:

If you decide to use kraft paper on your Thanksgiving table, make sure to give the kids (and adults!) crayons.  At Goodwill, we picked up a set of little milkglass cups for a few bucks.  These cups make really sweet crayon holders.  You could give each person their own crayons or you could pepper the table with these little crayon cups to share.

Remember that chalk pen I referenced above?  Chalk pens looks so sweet on kraft paper.  Consider drawing a border around each place setting.  You can also use this to assign seats:

No chalk pen?  Use a sharpie to do the same:

Or, ask each person to write their list of thanks:

Feathers are a fun autumnal touch!  Below we added a few plumes to the flower arrangements and then also incorporated feathers into the individual place setting:

Or, combine a few different elements and finish each place off with a burlap ribbon bow:

From the Babs Blog, we wish you very happy Thanksgiving!  There is so much for which to be thankful, isn't there?

Tea That Tastes Like Fall


Lovely, lovely autumn.  Here in Fort Collins, the foliage is golden, the skies are perfectly crisp and blue, and gentle breezes make the brightly-hued leaves gently rain down in a magical way.  I love this time of year.

Each of us has things that, by way of sheer nostalgia, make each season unique and special.  One of those things for me (in the fall) is a cup of hot spiced tea.  When I was a little girl, I can remember helping Mom make spiced tea mix with Tang as an essential ingredient.  To this day, it's one of my favorite things to drink from a piping hot mug.  It's also an inexpensive mix, so it makes a great bulk gift mix, too (just mix up, put it in a cute container, add a gift tag, and gift away!)

Here's the recipe.  Enjoy!
  • One full tub of Tang powdered drink mix (around 20 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup instant tea (such as Lipton)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar (add more or less depending on your taste)
Mix all ingredients together.  This is an easy, "loose" recipe---increase or decrease the ingredients according to your personal preferences.  When you're ready to have a mug of tea, put 2-3 heaping teaspoons of mix into mug and add piping hot water.  Enjoy!

P.S.  The lovely photo above is from a fun collaborative shoot between Sugar Photography and Me!   If you missed it, Check it out here!




Autumn Photo Shoot (Kari-Joy & Sugar Photography Collaboration)

Need a little inspiration?  Check out this photoshoot on the Kari-Joy website and on Sugar Photography.  I was lucky to collaborate with Jen Little from Sugar Photography on styling and wardrobing this photoshoot.  It was such a fun project, and these photos just make me want to get all cozy with this fall weather.  Enjoy!




Hey, I'll Take That...

Sometimes, it's all about being in the right place at the right time.

I was venturing down the street today and there was an older gentleman obviously cleaning out his garage.  There was a menagerie of things sitting by the curb.  Several things caught my eye and I slowed just a tad.  The man saw me taking a look and told me that he needed to get rid of all the stuff on the curb and if I wanted anything to go ahead and let him know.  My heartbeat quickened as one of the items on the curb was this lovely faux bamboo china cabinet:

I told my neighbor that I'd be happy to pay him for the cabinet.  He replied that, no, he didn't want money for it and if I would just come back with my husband's pickup, I could have it for free.  FOR FREE.

So, this lovely item came home with me.  I'm still amazed...for free.

I have big plans for this.  First of all, it needs to be cleaned up.  Second, it needs a paint job.  I'm thinking a color---perhaps a lacquered emerald green?  Also, the interior could use some sprucing.  I have a plan for that, too.  I'll post photos of this baby as soon as she gets her facelift!

And, to the man who so graciously let me bring this piece of furniture home:  Thank you!