Thursday, January 31, 2013

Replacing Light Fixtures 101

We have officially replaced every single light fixture in our house.  Well, Evan did.  I don't trust myself! Evan reassures that changing out light fixtures is easy.  For those of you who are more adventurous than me, here is his tutorial on how to replace a typical fixture.

The one in question?  This guy.  He and his buddies were exterior lights around our house.

Begin by turning off the circuit breaker to the particular room or section of the house by which you're working.  You don't want to electrocute yourself.  Then, remove the light fixture from the wall or ceiling.

When you remove the light figure, be sure to remove the copper ground wire from its grounding screw. The new light fixture will have its own ground wire.

That T-shaped piece is called a crossbar.  Remove the crossbar from the outlet box.

Those plastic yellow caps are called wire nuts.  They twist onto the end of each wire to fuse them together.  Take off the wire nuts to expose the copper wiring within.  (Most new fixtures come with enough wire nuts for each wire, but it's usually a good idea to hold on to the old ones.)  After doing so, pull the old fixture's wires off of the house's wires.

With the wire nuts removed, you will have three exposed wires.  The copper one is the ground wire (sometimes it can be green).  The black wire is positive, and the white wire is negative.  Your new light fixture will have its own set of ground, positive, and negative wires.  

For the next step, cut yourself a couple strips of electrical tape and stick them in a place that's easily accessible.

Generally, match the colored wires from the wall to the colored wires from the fixture.  When in doubt,  refer to the instructions included with the new fixture. Bond the house's and new fixture's wires together by twisting on the wire nut.  Cover the base of each wire nut with electrical tape to ensure that they'll stay put.  

Stuff the three wires back into the outlet box and affix the new fixture's crossbar.  Attach the ground wires to the ground screw of the crossbar once done.

Then, hold up the light fixture against the wall or ceiling.

Light fixtures are usually mounted by screws of some kind.  Tighten those, as necessary.

Once done, turn on the circuit breaker and test your new light fixture!  Depending on the fixture, it usually takes Evan about 15-20 minutes to install it.  Ceiling fans and chandeliers tend to be more complicated just because they're heavy, awkward, and have more decorative parts to them.

Remember the old?  


Well, here's the new!

What a difference a pretty light fixture makes, right?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quick Door Renewal

I wanted a cheap, easy fix to freshen up the two white doors in our garage.  One door leads into our mudroom and the other heads into the backyard.  Since our garage is now red, black, and silver, I decided to use some Rustoleum Hammered Paint that I had on hand for the doors.  This stuff will cover anything!

As soon as you apply the paint, it begins to bubble to give it a hammered appearance.

Perfect for a garage!

The door handles were made of a lovely brass.  I could've replaced them entirely, but decided not to let them go to waste.

Nothing a little spray paint won't fix!

We've been living with these door handles since August, and they've held up very well.  The handles and locks still operate normally, too! 

There you go!  Not too bad for an hour's worth of work to give these doors a new life.  Stay tuned for the complete garage overhaul!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Habanero Pineapple Curry Sauce

Here's a hot sauce that you don't hear of too often, and it's packed with a ton of unique flavors.  This recipe yields enough for about one pint-sized mason jar!

Habanero Pineapple Curry Sauce
Courtesy of Jennifer Trainer Thompson's 
Hot Sauce! Techniques for Making Signature Hot Sauces

- 10 fresh habanero chiles
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 3 tsp. ground tumeric
- 3 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. dry mustard
- 2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
- 1 tsp. ground fenugreek
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1" piece fresh ginger
- 1/4 tsp. cornstarch
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. brown sugar

To sterilize the mason jar, place it in a large pot with enough water to fully submerge it.  Bring the water to a boil and let the jar sit for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut off the stems to all of your habaneros.  These guys are hot little buggers, so try to not let the juice get onto your hands.

Puree all of the habaneros in a food processor or blender until they are evenly diced.

Peel and chop up the onion in the food processor, as well.

Then, measure out all of the beautiful spices.  This's the only time consuming part!

Cut up the fresh pineapple into small chunks.  While you're at it, cut off about an inch's worth of fresh ginger and mince it.  

In a medium saucepan, combine the diced habaneros and onions, spices, pineapple, ginger, pineapple juice, brown sugar, and vinegar.  Mix well.  Puree the sauce mixture using an immersion blender.  Once it's been ground into a fine pulp, add the cornstarch into a small glass and mix it with one tablespoon of water; add the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan (this will help thicken the sauce).  Cook the hot sauce over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

If you plan on using the hot sauce right away, remove the saucepan from the heat and let the sauce cool for another 10 minutes.  If you choose to can it, pour the sauce while still hot into the sterilized mason jar.  Submerge and boil the jar in hot water for 20 minutes.  Once done, remove the jar and let cool before handling.  The sauce will remain fresh for up to a year!

This habanero pineapple curry sauce is amazing.  Thanks to the citrus of the pineapple and the variety of spices, it's got an intense flavor to it.  The habaneros are certainly hot, but they burn the back of your tongue very slowly.  I can see this sauce as an amazing topping for burgers or grilled chicken.  It'd also be great infused with chili or a cajun dish.  Even just served with some tortilla chips is great, too.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Jumpin' Jalapeno Sauce

I've always wanted to make homemade hot sauces.  Evan received a hot sauce cookbook over Christmas, so we knew that we had to try out some of the recipes!  They are really simple to make.  So far, we've made four hot sauces, and this one presented below is my favorite.  This recipe yields enough for two pint-sized mason jars.

Jumpin' Jalapeno Sauce

- 12 fresh jalapenos
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 cups white distilled vinegar
- 1 cup water
- Pinch of salt

We had plans to can the sauce and offer one as a belated Christmas present to my brother, so we began the process by first sanitizing our two mason jars.  We don't have a canning kettle, so we used a large spaghetti pot with its lid.  To sterilize the jars, place them in a pot with enough water to fully submerge them.  Raise the temperature to high and let the jars sit in the boiling water for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and chop up the onion and garlic either by hand or in a food processor.

Slice off the stems to the jalapenos.  If you'd prefer a milder sauce, you can take out the seeds.

Then, dice up the jalapenos in the food processor, too.

Once everything is finely diced, place the onions and jalapenos in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the lime juice, water, vinegar, and salt to the saucepan.  Pluck off the cilantro leaves from their stems and mix well.

You may either pour the mixture into a blender or use an immersion blender for this next step.  Make sure everything is completely pureed.  

Crank up the stove to high heat.  Bring to a boil, then simmer the sauce for 10 minutes on low heat.

The sauce will look like this once done!

If you plan on using the sauce right away, remove the saucepan from the heat and let the jalapeno sauce cool for another 10 minutes.  If you choose to can it, pour the sauce while still hot into the sterilized mason jars.  Submerge and boil the jars in hot water for 20 minutes.  Once done, remove the jar and let cool before handling.  The sauce will remain fresh for up to a year!

My brother loved his hot sauce gift.  We even named it after him.  It's great with chips, on tacos, and in jambalaya.  It's certainly got a kick, but it's not overwhelming (at least for me).  


Friday, January 25, 2013

Dinner of the Week: Homemade Fried Rice

When we have absolutely no food in the house and don't feel up to visiting the grocery store, we make fried rice.  It's one of our favorites.  Our tried-and-true college recipe is easy and you seriously cannot mess it up.  You can also dress up the meal depending on what you have stashed in your freezer and fridge, too.  Shredded chicken or frozen shrimp are always a plus.

Homemade Fried Rice
Courtesy of Evan and Kirsten's College Days

- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- yum yum sauce, if desired
- sriracha sauce, if desired

Begin by bringing your rice and two cups of water to a boil.  Once a rapid boil is reached, stir, cover, and place the temperature on low for an extra 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, defrost your peas and corn.  To do this, place them in a bowl, fill the bowl up slightly with water, and microwave it on high for five minutes.

Shred the carrots using a knife and cheese grater.  Feel free to chop up any other veggies you may have, too.  Sometimes I sneak in a jalapeno or three when Evan's not looking.

In a large wok or skillet, melt a dab of butter over medium heat.  Add the eggs, sprinkle on a dash of salt of pepper, and scramble them.

Once the eggs are scrambled, add the cooked rice, peas, corn, and carrots to the skillet.  Bring the temperature to medium high heat.  Cook the rice mixture for an additional five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add soy sauce to incorporate color and texture to the rice.  If you're a fan of spice, add sriarcha sauce.  If you'd like a little sweetness to the fried rice, add yum yum sauce.   I combine all three if I have them handy.

Continue to cook the rice, stirring occasionally, for five minutes until all of the sauce has been absorbed into the rice.

Spoon out into single serving bowls or plates.  Enjoy!

Talk about a low-budget wonder.  And it's delicious, too!

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