About Something We Whipped Up

Real-life couple, Brian and Jen, share recipes, crafty ideas, gardening tidbits, household project how-tos and anything else they happen to whip up. Please stop by for a visit.

Better Than Boxed: Homemade Onion Dip

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is enjoying some ridged potato chips with a creamy onion dip. This doesn’t sound so bad, except for the fact that my preferred dip is one that you make by mixing sour cream with a packet of dried onion soup by Lipton. It’s a classic taste that still makes me just as happy as it did when I was a little kid enjoying some at a party, though it’s not something I’ll make a regular part of my diet anytime soon. The reason: That tiny packet hanging out in the back of my pantry has 14 different ingredients in it. No thanks! I set out to try to replicate the flavor and ended up with a slightly more sophisticated twist that I now like even more than the original.

Better Than Boxed: Homemade Caramelized Onion Dip by somethingwewhippedup.com

Better Than Boxed: Homemade Caramelized Onion Dip by somethingwewhippedup.com

Replacing the sour cream with tangy crème fraîche definitely elevated this dip from something I would serve to friends watching a football game, to something I’d put out at an afternoon garden party (though it would be a welcome addition to both). This weekend we enjoyed the dip with crispy zucchini cakes (stay tuned for that recipe soon) as well as a few potato chips. Let’s just say, we don’t have too much left…

Homemade Caramelized Onion Dip

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into thin strips 
  • 1 8-ounce container crème fraîche
  • kosher salt

1. Heat a large pan over medium-low. Add the butter and let melt. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until caramelized. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. Transfer crème fraîche to a small bowl. Roughly chop onions and add to bowl. Mix until well combined and add salt to taste. Let sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

SWWU Tip 1: Want an even more sophisticated flavor? Used caramelized shallots instead. 

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Syrup In A Snap

Brian and I have been stocking on up on all the fresh summer fruits we can get our hands on. As a result, our kitchen counter and fridge have been filled with luscious nectarines, peaches, berries and more for the past few weeks. As you know, we’ve been working our way through a hefty supply of blueberries too. I decided to take what we had left of them and make a quick and easy (and delicious) blueberry compote.

Easy Blueberry Compote by somethingwewhippedup.com

Easy Blueberry Compote by somethingwewhippedup.com

Nothing makes a fluffy stack of pancakes or a morning bowl of yogurt with granola feel more special than adding a generous spoonful of blueberry compote. The compote only contains three ingredients (including water) and took less than 15 minutes to make, so there’s no excuse not to have it on hand. Trust me, you’ll be glad you whipped some up.

Easy Blueberry Compote

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen), divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar

1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups blueberries, 1/3 cup water and the sugar. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until blueberries begin to burst. Add the remaining blueberries and cook 5 to 7 minutes more or until syrup coats the back of a wooden spoon. Serve warm or at room temperature.

SWWU Tip 1: It’s summer, so our blueberries were super sweet. If yours don’t taste as delicious, you might want to up your sugar to 1/2 cup. Feeling creative? Try making these with vanilla sugar instead.

SWWU Tip 2: Adding a teaspoon of fresh lemon or orange zest is another way to enhance the flavor of this dish. Add it when you mix in the second batch of blueberries.

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A Glass Act

If you were to take a peek inside our kitchen cupboards you’d notice that I like simplicity. I prefer a nice clean slate to showcase delicious food and pretty decorations on, so white plates and clear glasses make up about 80 percent of our housewares. Sometimes though, a pop of color can be a welcome addition. I was recently craving some color after I brought home some pretty yellow flowers. The clear vases I had on hand just weren’t helping them shine, so I decided to transform the rather plain items below into colorful bud vases.

What we started with for the DIY Bud Vases (by somethingwewhippedup.com)

What we started with for the DIY Bud Vases (by somethingwewhippedup.com)

All you need to do the same are a few colorful balloons, scissors and some small vessels to cover. Seriously, it’s that easy. Take a look at the result below. Not bad, right?

DIY Bud Vases by somethingwewhippedup.com

DIY Bud Vases by somethingwewhippedup.com

Whether they’re displayed on a shelf or lined up down the center of a table, I bet my guests would never guess that these bud vases are made from random kitchen items including jars, bottles, salt and pepper shakers, a shot glass and a jigger.

To make some for yourself, use scissors to snip the ends off of a balloon (the amount you cut will vary based on what you’re covering). Stretch the latex over the vessel and adjust as necessary. The balloons will only stretch so far without tearing, so use your best judgement when selecting balloon sizes and objects to cover. I allowed the latex to bunch a bit on a few of the vases, which added a nice texture to the look. I also enjoyed when the balloon didn’t cover the entire object, and just provided a stripe of color (as it did in the glass bottle in the background of the photo). Play around and have some fun.

SWWU Tip: The best part about this project is its versatility. Balloons come in every color of the rainbow, so you’re sure to find one that matches the look or theme you’re going for.

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SYWU: Finding Your Footing

Today is a special day at SWWU: We’re going to introduce a new section of the blog, Something YOU Whipped Up. That’s right! We know many of our talented readers and friends have completed all sorts of awesome projects. And now, we’re going to show them off right here from time to time.

Today we have a project from Eric and Mike, a creative couple in North Carolina. Here, Eric is going to share with us something he recently whipped up for their beautiful home!

Finding Your Footing via EL Hastie for somethingwewhippedup.com

Finding Your Footing via EL Hastie for somethingwewhippedup.com

We love cast iron. Besides making the best material for cooking delicious goodies, it also has been formed into many delightful decorations for outdoor patios, city manhole covers, and most importantly, bathtub feet. On a recent antiquing adventure, I was hunting for some cool old bookends. I was about to give up when I spotted the rusty pair of feet pictured below and I thought, “Well, no one is going to use these on a bathtub, but the weight of them makes them perfect for bookends.” What can I say, I’m a sucker for that awesome eagle claw.

After a good scrubbing with a wire brush to clean off the loose rust, I washed them with soapy water and let them dry. After that, each one got a few coats of Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch spray paint in Gloss Cranberry and then I let them dry overnight. The two make for perfect bookends—and they’ve turned out to be a fun topic of conversation when guests are over.

SWWU Tip: Eric picked up his cast iron claw feet at the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall in Charlotte, NC. When he found them, pairs were going for $35 to $50 each. I just did a quick search on Etsy and eBay and found a few sets ranging from $20 to $100 or more. Try searching for the term “cast iron claw feet,” and see what you can find. Make sure the set you buy is smooth on top, so they’ll rest flat on a surface.

Have you and your partner tackled a fun project you think others will enjoy? If so, let us know what YOU whipped up and your design might be featured on the site. Email us at contactswwu[at]gmail[dot]com. Please see our About Us page for submission guidelines.

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What a Stud-Muffin!

Last Friday Brian came home from work with a lovely surprise: about 4 to 5 founds of fresh blueberries! What a treat! We’ve been putting them to good use in smoothies, waffles and even made a blueberry pie, but we still weren’t able to make our way through the whole bag. We’ve already got a stash of frozen blueberries in the freezer, so we needed to come up with another way to store the extras long-term. We decided that hearty (and freezable) blueberry muffins would be the way to go. We can enjoy a few now and freeze the rest so we have them on hand whenever we need a quick breakfast treat.

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins by somethingwewhippedup.com

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins by somethingwewhippedup.com

We were inspired by an oatmeal muffin recipe from an old issue of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine (moment of silence please). It came from a reader whose mother apparently made these muffins in her home economics class in the 1940’s. The recipe asks you to soak the oats in buttermilk for an hour before you mix everything together, which is essential for the texture of the final product. Of course, we made a few changes as well, the biggest being the addition of blueberries. The result was a chewy, filling muffin with a touch of sweetness. I look forward to having these on hand in the freezer, I just wonder how long they’ll last.

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins

(Recipe adapted from Oatmeal Muffins, printed in the August 1995 issue of Gourmet)

Makes 1 dozen

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1. In a large bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk. Place the butter in a small bowl and microwave until melted. Place on the counter and let sit, along with the oat mixture, for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

4. Add the egg, brown sugar and maple syrup to the bowl with the oat mixture. Mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, incorporating fully after each. Fold in the blueberries. Transfer batter to the prepared muffin pan, filling each liner 3/4 of the way full. Top each with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack.

SWWU Tip 1: Want to freeze these? Let cool completely then wrap each with plastic wrap. Place wrapped muffins in a zip-top bag and freeze. To thaw, remove from freezer and leave on counter or in fridge overnight or microwave at half power for 20 seconds. 

SWWU Tip 2: Want more delicious recipes that use oats? Check out these Bourbon-Apple Oatmeal Cookies or these Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I dare you not to love them!

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