Sunday, October 28, 2012

Inspiration Series ~ Spanakopita Crescent Rolls

Welcome to Inspiration Cafe!  It's Mary from Sweet Little Bluebird!  I'm so excited to be here today to share with all of you what INSPIRES me! 

Answering the question, 'what inspires me,' was a lot easier to answer than I thought it was going to be - it's in the title of my blog, "Sharing a Little Happiness."   What I love most about blogging is sharing.  I love to share recipes, tips, name it!  I love to create recipes in my kitchen, using my husband, our two girls and their friends as taste testers.   If they love what I made, I can't wait to share it with everyone!  I LOVE that my blog has turned into a recipe box and source of tips and ideas for my family. This summer, my little one and I went to Alaska for three weeks, leaving my teen daughter and husband home to fend for themselves.  I had no idea, but just about everyday, my husband went to my blog to find a recipe to make - he made crock-pot recipes, naan pizzas, he refilled our foaming liquid soap dispenser from a past post.   He even made chocolate chip cookies using the photo tutorial as a guide, making a perfect batch! That is pretty awesome! Things like this are what inspire me to keep going, sharing, creating.  I also love that people actually like my stuff. WHO KNEW?!  

I had no idea where I was going when I started blogging last December and no idea what lies ahead.   What I do know is I'm really enjoying this adventure and I'm inspired every single day to share.

So on with my share for today's Inspiration Cafe!  

It should be known, I'm a Greek girl with a little bit of Irish.  I think food and feeding people is in my DNA.  My Papouli (that's Greek for Grandpa) owned a restaurant.  I also had a few relatives that owned a Coney Island Restaurant.  Even my grandpa on my Irish side owned a restaurant for a short time.  So when I say it's in my DNA, I come from a long line of foodies.  So today it would only be fitting to share a Greek inspired recipe...Don't worry, I'm sure I'll share an Irish dish one day too, to represent the other side of my family.  

Today's recipe is Spanakopita Crescent Rolls!  

I'm cheating using crescent rolls, but these are so good, super easy...

so let's cheat, shall we!  Just don't tell my Greek family!

Spanakopita Crescent Rolls Recipe


1 container of Crescent Rolls (8 count)
10 oz. frozen chopped Spinach (defrosted and *drain all excess liquid from spinach)
4 oz. Crumbled Feta
3 Green Onions Chopped
1 Large Clove of Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Dry Dill Weed
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. 
In a medium size bowl, add feta and dill, set aside.  In a medium size sauce pan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat, add garlic and green onions - saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add defrosted/drained spinach to pan and mix the garlic, onions and spinach together. Once blended well, pour on top of the feta and dill.  Next add the lemon juice and mix everything together.   Place triangle crescent rolls on clean surface and add one heaping scoop (I use a medium size Pampered Chef Scooper) of spinach mixture to each crescent roll, fold and pinch openings closed.  See photos below.  Place rolls on an ungreased cookie sheet, place on middle rack of oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until rolls are golden brown.  Remove and serve warm.  Enjoy!

*Be sure to drain as much of the liquid out of the spinach before adding.  You can use a colander, pressing the spinach with your hands or spoon.

What Inspires You?!


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Friday, October 26, 2012

Just Add Wine

Inspiration Cafe would like to offer a very warm welcome to Talya.  Talya blogs over at Grace Grits and Gardening where she tells amazing stories from her life with humor, and grace, and she even throws in some delicious looking recipes for good measure! 

Meet Talya ~

Usually when thinking of food and wine, most people are only worried about which wine pairs best with a particular meal. But if you follow a few simple guidelines, cooking with wine can enhance your dish.

Great Whites!

The number one rule is…. If it's not good enough to drink, it's not good enough for your recipe. In an attempt to be frugal, don't pour the dregs of a leftover rancid wine into your delicious dish. If the wine has turned to cough syrup while you were on a girls’ weekend, why would it taste any better in your bordelaise sauce? The entire recipe will be sour. It's best to open a new fresh bottle. You didn't chop and dice and sauté for an hour to pour in a bitter or flat vino.

Just Say No.

There is a section in the grocery store that sells vinegar and spices and "cooking wine". Do not use this "cooking wine". This is best for little old church ladies who pretend not to drink but sip a thimble full now and again while cooking meatloaf for supper. This concoction is full of salt and once the alcohol cooks off, your chicken piccata will be salty like the sea.

While simmering, most of the alcohol will evaporate and your dish will be flavored with the wine. If you’re like me and don't know that much about wine, the back wine label usually includes a description of the underlying wine tones such as apples, pears, vanilla, smoky, chocolaty, fruity, etc. It’s not just about the alcohol - every bottle tastes differently. Climate, growing season, and type of grape all affect the flavor of the wine and ultimately your food.

Chardonnays work well for deglazing and making sauces. With a somewhat buttery flavor, they enhance a buttery sauce. Sweet wines with hints of fruit work well roasting chicken or turkey or for dessert sauces. Bolder reds enhance meat dishes such as pot roast, chili or spaghetti.

This is one of my favorite go-to wines
for roasting poultry. It is relatively inexpensive
and has a screw top - bonus!!

My favorite roasted chicken recipe...
Roasted Chicken with White Wine and Rosemary
1 Whole Chicken
Olive Oil
White Wine
Sea Salt
Small Orange
Small Potato
Small Yellow Onion

Wash and pat dry the chicken. Place in a roasting pan, breast side up. Fill the cavity of the chicken with slices of orange, lemon, chunks of potato and onion, rosemary stems and whole garlic cloves. Don't be shy - stick your hand up in there and stuff it full of these goodies. Rub the bird with olive oil, salt and pepper. Be generous with the salt and pepper. Pour a cup of wine in the pan and over the chicken. Cover tightly with foil and roast at 350 for about an hour depending on bird size. Periodically baste with the wine. Uncover and roast an additional 20 minutes or so at 425 for extra brown crisp skin. Discard the fruit and veggies in the cavity. That was just for flavor.


Deglaze the drippings with more white wine for a delicious sauce.

This recipe works great with your Thanksgiving turkey too!

Grace Grits & Gardening

Thanks Talya!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Inspiration Cafe Is Undergoing a Makeover!!


Yep, you read that right...

We are opening up a BRAND NEW and IMPROVED CAFE
...and we can't wait to have all of you come visit! 

We've got our GRAND OPENING coming SOON!!!

*A huge shout out to the talented Jana at Little Web Writing Hood!
Definitely worth a visit for stylish custom graphic design needs.
(blog packages, etsy shops, facebook headers, etc.)

Follow IC on Facebook to get all of our updates!

So this week we're sharing our Contributors' favorite posts from the past, while we get things all finished up at the New Inspiration Cafe. 

Finally, here's a peak at some of our personal favorites.  Just click each photo to be taken to the actual post.  Enjoy browsing...hey, feel free to spend some time checking out each of our Contributors and see what else we've been up to!

     Image Map

Don't forget to leave a comment saying you stopped by.
We're gearing up for Inspiration Cafe to be a much more open and interactive place, and we want to get to know each and every one of you. 
Have a wonderful week!  ;) 

Thanks for the visit and please, come back again!
The Ladies at Inspiration Cafe 

Monday, October 8, 2012

IC's New Location is Opening Soon

is opening soon!

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for up to date details!

Distressed Donna Down Home

Hey Everyone,

 Its time to open the cafe again....and today we have another special treat to go with your coffee.
 We have Donna from Distressed Donna Down Home visiting...

So please join us in welcoming Donna and we hope you enjoy your time with us...

I am so excited to be invited as guest host here at The Inspiration Cafe.  I have been following them for a while and love their Monday features. 

I am Distressed Donna Down Home.  I am a retired middle school English teacher.  I haul and refinish rusty, crusty stuff to resell in my booth at a local antiques mall.  I started blogging back in April and have written at the speed of light ever since.

My posts are as scattered with ideas and projects as my brain is.  I love photos, but am chronically bad at taking them.

Hang onto your coffee cups or iced sweet tea.  It's going to be a bumpy ride!

For this post I chose three unsuspecting little benches.  I love to stack these in vignettes.  I have chosen a bird theme for these and some painting and some distressing and some stenciling and some stamping and some torn cotton and some tags.

Well, you'll see - I just go too far sometimes.
I bought some sample pots of Valspar in (from the left) Summer Sky, Rain, and Prairie.

Very close in shades of blue-gray.  They turned out beautifully and most would stop here.

Not me!
 I hopped over to The Graphics Fairy and chose a nest for the round bench, a dove for the small bench, and two black and white images - a bird and a nest - for the large bench.

On the two colored images, I used the regular Mod Podge method.  Thin coat on the back of the image and placed carefully on the surface and let dry.

 On the large blue bench I decided on the placement of the bird and the nest.  I carefully cut the images out so that there was just a small border of the white paper.  When you are placing the image, remember you will be reversing it so it will actually be on the opposite side.
I put a coat of Mod Podge on the top of the bench and placed the images face down.  After gently smoothing them out, I let them dry overnight.

The next morning I wet the back of the image with water. When the paper soaks up the water, you gently rub the paper backing to release it from the ink.

This takes practice!!!
 Here the bird image is revealed with the nest yet to go.

The results are really worth the effort.  If you mess up, you can:
A.  Leave it and say it was on purpose.
B.  Sand it off and start again.
Finished - finally.  After rubbing the image off, let it dry and then sand with a cheap rough paper towel or a knee-high stocking or if you are fancy, super-fine sand paper.

If you would like, you may go commit a crime - you have probably rubbed your fingerprint off!

 Yes, I know, most would be happy and stop here.

Not me!

I took the benches outside and gave them a distressing using a heavy grit sanding block followed by a fine grit one.

The round bench got a heavy distressing.

The small one got a medium distressing.
 And the large bench got a light distressing around the edges.

Most would stop here.

Not me!
This next part is  Danni's favorite thing to do!


I decided the round bench with the nest needed a bird on either side of the legs.

First stencil in Folk Art Barnwood.

Move the stencil about an eighth of an inch to the upper right.

Stencil the bird in Sea Mist and the leaves in Clover.

Using a fine liner brush and Linen paint lightly create highlights where natural light would hit the object.

I also gave some details to the bird and the leaves to make them pop.

The small bench did not need much extra - the distressing really brought out all the different coats of paint it had endured during its life.

The name of this print is "A Dove At Sea" so guess what?  I pulled out my stamps and put the title on it!
I thought of something special for the big bench - a skirt!

I love tearing up cotton calico.  I purchased this fabric because it went with all three benches.  My sewing machine is hiding somewhere in the house so after ripping and fraying one edge, I ironed down an inch.  Using Peel 'n Stick tape, I taped that down.  Simply slip a piece of elastic through there  and you have a skirt for your bench that can be removed when necessary.

 Here it is a skirt for a bench!

 Most would be happy and stop now.

Not me!

I made a small copy of the black and white nest, colored with with pencils, Mod Podged it to a distressed blue shipping tag, made a torn cotton tassel, and attached them to the skirt.


All three benches received three coats of satin varnish - I forgot that step somewhere along the way.

Most people would be happy and stop here.

And I am definitely happy!


Baby bench in blue with a dove. 

The round bench in summer sky paint with stenciled birds.

Whats that I see?

I know I said I was happy, but I could not resist adding a nest of eggs underneath

The shy bench with a skirt covering her legs.

If she gets frisky, she can just strip that skirt off!

All three sit outside to pose for a picture.  I must admit to being slightly attached to these three.  I hope you don't regret coming for a visit.  I am sure the ladies at Inspiration Cafe wondered if I would ever shut up, but I am Southern - when we have something to say, we just talk and talk and talk and . . .

Well, you get the picture.  If you ever have the time, come over and visit.

See y'all!

Those little benches are just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing them with us Donna.

And don't forget to be back next week and check out our new look for Inspiration Cafe - some very exciting changes are coming up.



Monday, October 1, 2012

Guest Post - Mellywood's Mansion

Its time for Inspiration Cafe - Yay!!!

We have Mel from Mellywood's Mansion running the cafe today. So order your coffee and prepared to be inspired.

Welcome Mel, the cafe is all yours.....

Evening All,

I'm Mel and you can usually find me at my blog Mellywood's Mansion, where I fumble my around the house trying my hand at DIY. Sometimes I do well and other times I don't. Almost every project comes with a story, which, between the lines reads, I really shouldn't be legally allowed to call myself a DIY blogger.

However I am so excited to be serving up some fun for you here at the Inspiration Cafe, and I'm not going to lie, the whole thing has left me a nervous wreck.

On the menu today, is my ruffle scarf specialty.

I'm going to confess, I love scarves, fabric scarves are pretty but I love nothing more, than buying the latest winter yarns and click clacking up some fun.

My latest obsession - The Ruffle Scarf.

These scarves look amazing and are so simple, even if you are a beginner knitter you can whip one of these up in a jiffy.

1 ball of yarn (there are many different brands, but research suggests that Boutique Sashay Yarn can be purchased anywhere. I found it for sale here ) I used a $2 ball I found in store at Riot.
6mm needles or Size 10 for the U.S.

Now the instructions can be very confusing, if your lucky enough to get them, but it's really simple. So beware lots of pictures, but once you get it, you'll be pumping these out by the dozen.

Casting on, now this is where it is different than your normal knitting, first you need to pull apart the wool, like this. Don't try to do the whole ball, just do it a bit at a time

Then, leaving a very short tail (about an inch - 1.5 inch) weave the yarn through every SECOND hole, at the top of the yarn. The top is the side that does not have a nice finished edge. So basically there is no yarn over, it's just putting the needle through the ready made holes.

Do this until you have 6 loops.

Then grab your second needle and just like you would normally knit, put the needle in your right hand through the first loop on the left hand needle. Leave a one hole space and place the next hole onto the right hand needle like so.

The pull it over the top of the loop, as you would do when knitting with regular yarn.

Repeat this, and every few rows gently tug on the scarf, this pulls out the ruffles.

Don't be too concerned if your yarn rolls, like this

Continue until you have approximately 10 inches of yarn left

Cast off using the same method, knit two loops, then take the 1st loop (the one furthest from the needle point) and lift it over the 2nd loop and drop it off. Continue to the last loop. Then grab what's left of the tail, bring it through the last loop and tightly tie it off in a knot - this will be hidden by the last ruffle.

Trim the tails, hold it in the middle to make sure the ends are even, and there you have it, one ruffled scarf.

Now I'm not going to lie, I have about 6 of these in all different colors, Love them!

Here's the blue one.

Thanks for reading and to all the ladies from Inspiration Cafe for having me. I must go now because apparently I have to wash all the coffee cups, left sitting on the table, here at the cafe.

Mel xo

How gorgeous are these scarves? Thank you for washing up Mel - we hope you will be back to help out at the cafe again very soon