Friday, December 31, 2010

Blueberries and Creamsicles

 I was inspired by this fabric peeking out from my stash (the one in the upper left corner).  It reminded me of blueberries. The lighter one below it does too, but the blue on blue was the inspiration.  I saw it and kept going back to it, so finally I just pulled it out and threw this together.
You can click to enlarge the photos if needed.

When I added this orange, which I felt it needed, it made me think of orange creamsicles that I hear people talk about.  I've never had one, but in my brain they are the equivalent of orange sherbet Flinstone push-pops, which in case you don't know are AWESOME!
This was made at the beginning of 2010, I just never posted it.  I really enjoy making little quilts like this, it's about 30" square.  But I think if someone looked in my closet and saw the stack of baby quilts I have they would think I'm a little off because there is no reason for me to hoard baby quilts when we don't have children.  I was actually embarrassed when my sister came over and saw them.  She got mad at me for hiding them away in a closet and told me to hang them on the wall.  haha.  Who knew...I can just call them wall hangings and suddenly it's not so weird.

Dresden Nine Patch

This was the second quilt I made...after Brown Garden Blocks.  Ambitious?....I didn't know it.  I just saw something I liked and decided to figure it out.  Everyone thought I was nuts, or at least that's the way it came across.  I'm proud of this, I think it turned out beautifully.  That striped border really was nuts, those are 2.5" half square triangles (HST).  That's tiny.  It's not reversible like the ones I make now are...but I'm still proud of it.  I just don't like looking at the back as much.  Oh, and no, this was not from a pattern.  I've only followed two patterns, the first one linked above, and one you'll see in another post called Christmas Pinwheels.

The one that started it all

This is the thing that started it all...sort of. 
Around the beginning of December 2009 my mom and I worked with a group of ladies on a quilt for someone in our church dealing with a cancer diagnosis.  My mom and I decided we liked it, so we went to the store and she found a pattern.  We bought fabric, mine were browns and pinks, hers were bright pinks, oranges, and yellows with some fun greens mixed in.  I was/am a little envious of the beautiful fabrics she pulled together.  I love what I've made, but I am in awe that she put such bright things together and they work so well.  Anyway, we got started, and my machine broke.  It was originally my mom's, left to her by the owner of her first house when she moved to Texas.  I think it was made in the 1950's or 60's.  Maybe earlier.  Anyway, my husband bought me a wonderful machine for Christmas that year, and I never knew I could be so excited about a Christmas gift, especially something I didn't ask for or even consider wanting.  It's been downhill from there.  So, as I'm putting together a year end post of all my completed quilts I realized I never posted a completed picture of this first quilt.  It isn't perfect, but we love it.  It's warm, it fits our bed, and it has memories.  Mom's is still in pieces on her sewing table, but she has resolved to make a real effort to work on it this year. 
Technically it isn't my first quilt.  I actually made one when I was in high school, and it's been all over the world with me, but I didn't actually 'quilt' the thing.  I'll tell that story later with a picture. 

Christmas Runner

 A small Christmas runner which could easily be used for a sideboard. Measures 45" x 9".

This was my special homemade gift for our Make-It Christmas this year!  My sister-in-law received it...and has the perfect place for it.

All Boy

 Please ignore the cluttered picture.  This is a twin sized quilt for my nephew.  Boys are always more difficult to shop for, and to make for.  At least for me.  I wanted something that was boyish, but that he can take with him...he's a teenager, so I didn't want it to look like a little boy's blanket.  Blues and grays with red quilting.

He was pretty happy about it.  And it's REALLY long, because he's almost 6' tall now...taller than my husband who stands 5'10". 

All Girl

 A Christmas Quilt for my youngest niece.  She's very girlie and pink is her favorite color.  She loves clothing and dolls and playing dress up.  Almost every time I see her she asks me if I'm going to make her a quilt.  I made a dress for her birthday and she said, now I need a blanket.  She's five.  So, I decided Christmas was the time to make her a quilt. We called it Flower Girl, it suits her.

It is quilted with flowers.
 It is pink and flowery and has little purple hearts for the binding.

Like I and flowery, with just enough contrast to grow with her...hopefully.
She had the MOST surprised and precious face when she opened this.   It was the scrunched kind of face that in pictures looks really upset because you are saying "awe, I love it!" and you have that kind of frowny mouth...does that make sense?  Well, I have a picture of me making that face opening gifts...and she did it too.  It was so cute.  She said, "I've always wanted a flower quilt!"

More Grown Up

First...please forgive these pictures.  For some reason I didn't spread this one out on the floor like I usually do, and it's no longer in my possession.  This is called Stick Straight.  It was made for my oldest niece who is super trendy and really loves girly things, but not openly.  :)  Weren't we all that way for a while?  Yeah, she's 17, so I wanted to make something that wasn't so little girl, but that would still be cool when she goes off to college in a year or two.
One side is pink and green stripes that match her and her sister's bedroom.  The other side is dark blue grey with HUGE flowers....I liked that it was super dark, but somehow very fresh and feminine.
Close up of the straight line quilting.  I just followed some of the lines in the fabric, all at different widths.

Generations Quilt

We call this Stained Glass.  It's a very special quilt top my grandma made for my mom nearly two years ago.  My mom had it on the spare bed for a long time, but it never got quilted.  She asked me to quilt it shortly after I started quilting this time last year.  I surprised her with it for Christmas this year...she didn't know I'd been working on it.
The top is comprised of Psalms blocks and stained glass panels in many colors as you can see.  The stained glass blocks have really beautiful gold patterns running through them, but getting a picture of it is nearly impossible.
Here is one of the verse blocks, and you can see my stitching...very random patterns, in lots of thread colors.
See.....lots of colors.  We went from red to orange, pink to yellow, blue, green and even some violet and gray made it in.  But, I'm okay with it.
It came out wonderfully crinkly after the wash.  It was pretty awesome watching her surprise opening this.  It took me a long time to complete because it's almost a queen size quilt...and that is A LOT of fabric to push through my little machine.  It was worth it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jalapeno Corn

Jalapeno Corn

2-6 cans shoepeg corn or 1 bag frozen corn
1/4 cup milk
1 stick butter (1/4 lb)
2 small bars cream cheese(start with one)
2 dashes garlic salt or powder
1/4 cup water
2-4 Jalapenos minced
In medium sauce pot, melt butter and add cream cheese. Melt well. When melted, mix in dashes of garlic, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup water and corn; mix well.  If mixture is too thick ad water or milk to thin down, if too thin add second bar of cream cheese.
Mince jalapenos and add to taste. The more jalapenos, the hotter the mixture. Pour into a baking dish and bake at 350F until very light brown and bubbly. Serve hot.
Serves 6-12

*Can also add 1 Tbsp. minced onion and garlic instead of powder.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crafting in the Kitchen and Christmas Tradition

This is my husband...back in November as you can see on the calendar.  He was working on his Christmas project.  You see that 2 feet of counter top he's using?  Yeah, that's 3/4 of the usable counter space in the kitchen.  We finally worked out a system for him to work on his project and me to have enough room to cook involves a lot of moving things around. But, it's working.  And, I can't show the full picture because I don't want to give away what he's making.  And if you think you know, just keep it to yourself until after December 26th because that's when we'll find out.

About the Make-It Christmas;  For the last 15 years or so we've had this tradition in my family.  Every other year we have a Make-It Christmas.  Each person makes one gift instead of buying something for everyone.  But they only make one item.  Then, on Christmas Eve, or the day after Christmas we all come together with our super secret handmade gifts wrapped up.  We each draw a number and do a gift exchange.  Each gift must be opened after it has been chosen, and it can be 'stolen' up to three times during the course of the night, but after that third steal it can no longer be taken away.  Whoever has their gift stolen gets to open another gift, but that does not include stealing someone else' item.  At the end of everything the person with #1 can choose to trade his/her gift since they did not have any steal opportunities...and then everyone has received something very cherished and lovingly made.  It is always an incredibly fun time, and there is always a lot of guessing about what everyone will make or has made.  My mom always tries to get everyone to tell her before the game...even though that is cheating...and we all give her a really hard time about it. :)  She doesn't like not knowing.  Once a gift is opened and several guesses have been made, the maker identifies themselves. We always learn something about each other, and about ourselves in the process.  We still give regular gifts to children under 18, but encourage the ones over 15 to join us in the Make-It game because it is so much fun.  This is certainly a tradition I love and will continue as long as possible.  We've even gotten my husband's family to join in.  It works out well because essentially you have 2 years to make your item, though I think everyone starts on it just a month or two ahead of time.  Some of the items over the years include...a horseshoe coat rack, a barbecue utensil tree, a beautifully painted Texas flag on sheet metal, handmade crosses of many varieties, quilts, recipe books, poems, calendars, dishwasher magnets to determine clean/dirty, shelves, pottery, a record mobile, food items, picture collages or albums, a cd of nature sounds my uncle recorded, napkins, dishtowels, a beautifully crafted box to hold nuts(and tools to crack them), picture frames, framed mirrors, and a myriad of other things.  These are the things we hold dear, because they hold a memory of the people we love.  It is not just that we received something, or that it was made with much thought and care put into it, but that it was made by someone we love, and we know they made these things out of love to share with us.  It is the most beautiful and cherished tradition we have.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours.  May you truly be blessed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Progress Shock

I've counted my quilts.  I'm more than surprised.  New post about it soon...but I don't want to spoil a Christmas surprise, so it will be posted with links after Christmas.  I've also found some things that never got posted, so you might see those soon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Basting. The end.

 Are you a crazy baster like me?

When I baste I use a LOT of pins.  Over 200 for this twin-ish sized gift, and that was really taking it easy and trying to space them out so I'd have enough to finish.  I always run out of big pins about 3/4 the way through and moan and groan about using medium size pins.  Then when those run out...I just stare at the project and fight myself about using the small, i.e. tiny and made for dolls fingers.  My husband who loves me very much bought me 150 new shiny Giant Safety Pins!!!!  I told him he didn't need to because they were almost $10.  He did it anyway.  I was giddy.  They are so smooth to use, and I'm so thrilled that I won't have to even think about using those horrible tiny pins anymore.  The mediums are still waiting in the wings just in case I have an overflow project that needs something, but...well, that will be okay.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cheap Sheets, and a Bible Cover

 A pile of fabric from Goodwill...$10 worth.  I think they were sheets, but they will become quilts...eventually. It may not look like much in the picture, but that pile was up to my knees!

A work in was supposed to be done before Christmas, it's close, but it needs to be basted and quilted.  And really, it looks different than this now because I added sashing between the blocks.

More potholders that have been gifted.

This is a bible cover made for my grandmother using a Dresden Plate for either side and braided handles.

As I said before....I've been REALLY busy.  Even little projects take time.  And soon you'll get to see the big projects that have taken most of my time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sneak Peek

 Here is a sneak peek at some Christmas gifts.  You'll get to see the final projects after they've been gifted.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just for Me!

This is a quilt I made all for me.  It's a footie quilt.  Single person size, just tall enough for me to use when I want to snuggle on the sofa, or in the recliner, and keep my feet warm.  When I don't want to use the footie pocket, there are snaps to keep it closed.  I love it's simplicity and it's beautifully colorful holiday fabrics.
The line of printed fabrics are where the pocket snaps closed.  The white fabric is super snuggly flannel.  I just quilted 1/4 inch on either side of the seaming.  This was a very quick project I did back in October to get ready for the cooler weather.  It is slightly smaller than a twin size quilt, but large enough to tuck under myself when sitting in a chair.  It has been well loved.

Christmas -Pot Holders

Tuna Salad

I know everyone has their own tried and true recipe for tuna salad, but have always loved the way my dad makes it, so I thought I'd share our recipe with you. 
2 large cans tuna in water(drained)
2 Tbs. finely chopped sweet or purple onions
1-2 roma tomatoes diced
2-3 Tbs. sweet relish
2 Tbs. (10-20 slices)dill pickle slices(finely chopped)
1 tsp. celery salt
3 Tbs. mayonaise
2-3 tsp. yellow mustard
2-3 tsp. ranch dressing
3-4 hard boiled eggs chopped

Mix all ingredients together, chill, and serve on your favorite bread as sandwiches. Serves 4-6.  Adjust mayo, mustard, and ranch according to taste.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No more posts....well nevermind

Every time I've started to write a new post over the last few days, I see the number of posts I've written and suddenly hear a small band of brothers loudly chanting in my ear " no more posts!, no more posts!, no more posts!!" over and over and over. Today I break it, and even as I write this I hear a collective, "awe man!" in my head.  Oh well. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Broccoli Casserole

Getting ready for the holidays...can you tell?
See Green bean casserole recipe because we'll be doing the same thing here.
The substitutions are;
1. instead of bacon we'll use a can of chopped green chiles
2. Instead of green beans we use broccoli.
3. Add 6 cups cooked rice.
Follow the same instructions, but you will want to transfer everything to a large mixing bowl to incorporate cooked rice and broccoli with the 'gravy' mixture.  Place into medium/large baking dish and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Due to the similar nature of these recipes it is easy to make them simultaneously.

Green Bean Casserole


2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4c. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 package bacon chopped
1/4c. finely chopped mushrooms
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1-2 c. milk
1/2-1c. heavy cream
1c. shredded mexican blend cheese
1/2c. shredded parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
4c. green beans
1c. panko bread crumbs

In a  large skillet sweat onions in olive oil.  When translucent, add in chopped bacon, garlic, and mushrooms.  When bacon in mostly cooked, but still soft move mixture to a bowl.  In same skillet melt butter and stir in flour.  Mix flour with butter until incorporated, then add milk and cream.  Stir well until mixture becomes almost as thick as gravy.  Add in salt and pepper.  Stir in onion and bacon mixture.  Add in cheese and stir until just melted.  Mix in green beans and transfer to small/medium butter coated baking dish.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

***This is not one to be reheated as leftovers.  It is best when hot out of the oven.

Updating my list

Remember that list I made at the beginning of the year?  The one where I decided I could try/re-try all sorts of new/old things, setting goals for myself.  Remember how I said I didn't HAVE to do everything on the list, it was just one of those things you do to look forward and have some goals? Well, I haven't done everything.  In fact, I haven't done a lot of those things, but the things I have done have been so rewarding!  In fact, I'm not at all worried that I won't finish my list (I never was), but I am proud to have surpassed some of my goals.  Let's take a look;

  1. Hunting; well, we 'hunted' some noisy birds in our yard after many sleepless nights.  But really we just scared them away.  Our cat has hunted enough; she's brought us several snakes, birds, squirrels, and mice.  Oh, and a rabbit. She's always leaving trophies to prove her love.
  2. Bra fitting; No money equals no shopping. And besides- I know what size I wear.
  3. Pedicure; This never happened.  I just did them myself.
  4. Traditional Quilting; I've learned some traditional patterns,but find not following a pattern too perfectly is more my style.
  5. Regular Cooking; I now cook at least 4 to 5 times per week with leftovers on the other nights. Have you seen my menu board?
  6. Teaching my husband to cook; He literally laughed in my face, but he's gotten more curious about what/how I'm making new it's still possible.
  7. Sell a painting; In progress. More later.
  8. Lobster; well, I've had lobster in a sushi roll, but not by itself with butter sauce.
  9. Water Aerobics; Not going to happen.
  10. Gray; This doesn't really bother me much, but a hair dresser (I've been twice in the last year, more times than in the last 10 years combined) asked me how I got paint in my hair...after several minutes and careful inspection at the root he finally believed me that it really was just my hair, and it's silver. There isn't much and usually it stays hidden, but sometimes it catches the light and is really something.
  11. Acupuncture; Still waiting to make this happen.
  12. Re-trying food; I've tried cabbage, carrots, peas, hominy, olives, stewed tomatoes, and frozen green beans, tomato soup, anchovies, sausage pizza, funyuns(sp?), buffalo chicken, mustard, and other things I've forgotten about . Some I still don't like, but some I do.
  13. Quilts; I've completed my goal of 12 in 12 months.  It helps that several of these were baby quilts, but most are twin or full size.
  14. Being Creative Daily; I don't have much proof, but I do make lots of little sketches and lists of ideas.
  15. Guitar; working on getting one first, then we'll learn.
  16. Artistic Encouragement; this is an ongoing thing between me and my mother.
  17. Concealed; This is still on the table because I know I won't carry.
  18. Camping; My husband's a city boy...and we both love our amenities.
  19. Old projects; I'm having too much fun working on new ones.
  20. Blog It; Well, I've blogged, but not regularly. I just hate not always having the pictures,and I've been really busy.
And something not on the list; Reading.  I've read 24 new books in less than 12 months.  I have also re-read about 10 old books in that time. To me, this is amazing.  I didn't set out to read that many books.  I just enjoy reading every now and then.  And then, I looked at my 'read books' shelf one day and it was overflowing so I thought I'd count.

What I've been up to

Well, I know you probably think I've run off and am never coming back to the blog, but it isn't true.  I've been on it, writing, posting pictures of treasures; you just can't see them.  I've been quite busy getting things made for the holiday season and since most things are gifts, I don't want to spoil the surprise.  I'll be posting some sneak peaks soon, but get ready because after Christmas you'll see all the wonderful projects exploding through my house. (Our hearth has been covered with packages for weeks-just waiting to be given away)

For now I'll be trying to post some recipes you can enjoy during the holidays.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bathtime Blunders

So...I decided a bubble bath with a good book would be a great idea, I was in for several surprises.  First;Before filling the tub I took the pillow off because I noticed a smell. Then I learned my bath pillow has decided to retain water even though it's supposed to be waterproof.  I realized this when I started to take the ever so icky cover off to wash(which was washed only 1 week ago) and water squished out of the inner pillow(I haven't used the bathtub in 4 or 5 days).  Gross. My pillow has been holding dirty bath water for 4 or 5 days. No wonder it smells. 
Second; After getting in the bath, I leaned back to no pillow and banged my head on the tile...I forgot just how hard and cold the back of the tub was.
Third; After about 2 minutes in the bath I realized the water was not anywhere near as warm as it should have been, so I turned on the tap, to find much colder water.  I sat in cold sudsy water trying to figure out what to do.  Finally my husband heard my cry for help and started the shower to try and get the hot water flowing.  He wisely advised me to let some water out of the tub so the new hot water would not overflow.  I did.  After far too long, we decided the shower water wouldn't get any hotter, and tried it anyway.  It was colder than before.
Fourth; While figuring out the water situation with the shower running, I grabbed my glass of water.  After a nice big gulp I set the cup down and thought that it didn't taste quite right.  I looked at the cup, the BRIGHT YELLOW cup, that is ONLY to be used for bath water.  I drank bath water.  It was disgusting!  I cringed, then laughed, and my husband laughed and emptied the bathwater cup, which looks nothing like the clear glass of water I brought in to drink...sitting on the opposite end of the tub.  He left, and I was sitting in an almost empty tub of cold bubbly water with the taste of bathwater in my mouth.  I thought I could tough it out.  I really wanted to read my book.  So, I tried to relax anyway.
Fifth; After about 15 minutes I couldn't stand it.  We tried the shower trick again, and it was a little better.  So, I filled the tub as full as it would go and it was reasonably warm.  Well...that's what I told myself.  Really it was only marginally warmer than the previous try, but it was warm enough to stay in for a little longer.  Then after about 20 minutes of reading.  We finally had HOT water....I opted for the shower this time because I was tired of wasting water.  Then I realized we'd been running the dishwasher and washing machine on hot water during the whole fiasco.

I'll be more careful next time I decide to relax.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Autumn is my favorite season...except when it's not

Scene from a marriage;
When back scratches are usually reserved for bedtime, this request was a little out of the ordinary.  Promptly after taking a wonderfully hot shower (which can only be fully enjoyed when the weather finally changes) at around 6:30p.m. this occurs:
Me: Honey, can you please give me a back scratch and then lotion my back?
Him: Why do women bathe and then put goop all over themselves.  It doesn't make any sense.  I thought you bathed to be clean, and then you just slather on a bunch of lotion and other creams or potions.  It's weird.
Me: Well, since the weather has finally decided to catch up to the season, my skin decided to lose all ability to hold moisture, hence the need for the early back scratch and lotion. My skin is DRY, and I need relief!  As for the other 'goop and potions', these are necessary unless you want me to revert to looking like a 12 year old boy who everyone secretly calls "pizza face".
Him: oh, okay. 

I love my husband.  He asks smart questions, gives smart answers, and listens to me even when I talk crazy.  He also gives me back scratches and tucks me into bed every night.  When he is away it is torture...and when the air is this dry it's pretty tough too. I love autumn, it is my favorite season, but the dry skin that accompanies it requires much attention...I'm glad my husband is up to the task.
Here's to finding happiness in the little things!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Do you Read?

Do you read?  I do.  I love reading.  I read all sorts of books.  Recently I counted the number of new books I've read this year;21.  Yes, twenty one NEW books so far this year.  That's not counting the many re-reads.  I like having books on the shelf so I can re-read them when the mood strikes, which is usually a year or two later.  I enjoy the feel of the paper, the smell of it, and the chance to fall into a new story.  I know so many people who don't care to read at all, or who don't want to hang on to books.  For me, I'd be thrilled to have a house full of them someday.  I'm a little bit like Belle from Beauty and the Beast that way.  That library is something from a dream!  There are very few times where I don't have at least one book on hand.  Usually I am in the middle of several.  Recently my mother-in-law gave me a small stack of books she'd read in her book club.  It's fun seeing what other people read.  I think sometimes it helps you understand them better, sometimes it just makes you think.  I've read many books that I probably wouldn't read again, but I'm glad I read them at least once. There has been at least one I gave up on and can't seem to pick back up.  There are some I've read 10 times within 2 years, and still love.  So, I ask; Do you read?  What do you read?  Do you read all the way through, or bits and pieces over many months?  Do you have any favorites, or ones you can't stand, and why?  If you dislike a book, will you continue reading just to finish, or will you give it up and never pick it up again?  And if you are looking to get rid of books...don't throw them out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Been a long time.

I know I told you I'd post something.  This is the busiest month for us at work, which makes doing anything outside of work almost unthinkable.
  • Have I cooked?...yes, lots.  Not much new though.  This is a time for fallback recipes...golden oldies, old faithfuls...and lots of scrambled eggs. 
  • Have I made stuff?....surprisingly yes, but most of it is in preparation for Christmas so these things can't be posted until after they are gifted. 
  • Has anything notable happened?...Yes.  
    • We had a flood in our kitchen.  A valve exploded and we had about 15-20 gallons of water in the kitchen floor before we could get the water main shut off.  We spent more than an hour using every towel in our house sopping up and wringing out the water.  Fortunately the water didn't get further than the kitchen, and the floors are still livable.  Is there damage...yes, but it's not major. 
    • We celebrated an anniversary, several birthdays, and homecoming.
    • We decided it's okay for our dogs to sleep inside most nights so they'll stop barking at the crazy neighbors who stay up too late and get up too early.  They have their own room.  It's been nice.
    • I'm sure there is more...but I can't remember.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'll be back

I know I've been gone.  I'll be back.  soon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Bib Necklace of Buttons

I had this idea; I love buttons, and have some really beautiful buttons I won't be using on any projects, so why not make a necklace!  This was the beginning design. 

This is the final project.  It's not perfect, and I'll probably never wear it.  I can't pull off anything of this size, but I love it.  I think I will frame it as a piece of art for the sewing room. It holds lots of memories because I know where most of the buttons came from. 

A Fall Project

I have to start by saying I love to decorate.  I could easily spend my paycheck at Pier1, if I didn't have bills.  I love changing things around and would love to have decorations for each season/holiday and the time/space to actually decorate with and store those things.  But I don't.  So, I decided to get creative.

This is me getting an idea...

I have had this metal decoration for about 5 years.  I never know what to do with it.  So I decided today was the day to change it up, make it visible, and make it fit the season.

 I took scrap strips of orange and brown fabrics and weaved them through, tying the ends onto the frame.

And ended up with this; A PUMPKIN!!!

It is hanging outside on our porch.  Now we are decorated like everyone else on the block.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cranberry Muffin Surprise

2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 dashes each clove and ginger
1/2 c. softened butter
1 c. milk or cream
1/2 c. orange juice
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. frozen cranberries
3-4 Tbsp. Nutella

Combine all except cranberries.  Mix until well combined.  Stir in cranberries.  Fill muffin tins two thirds full, making sure to get a few cranberries in each cup.  Bake for 30 minutes(or until toothpick comes out clean) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  These do not puff up above the level they are filled.  If tin is filled to top the batter will run over the top to create a flat edge(makes it difficult to remove without crumbling).  Makes 4 dozen mini muffins or about 2 dozen regular muffins.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Family Wine

We recently learned about some family owned vineyards who send their grapes to Becker Vineyard.  We've always enjoyed Becker's wines and learned that we'd had several bottles of the Claret from the one family member's vineyard.  We recently purchased this reserve bottle from the other vineyard because we thought it would be great just to have.  I'm excited to try it, but it's not a bottle you open just because.  It needs a special occasion.  We thought we'd have it for our anniversary this year, but that was interrupted by the U.S. Open Men's Tennis Final.  Although entertaining, it was not exactly what I thought would be the focus of our anniversary.  So, for now it's sitting pretty on our buffet in the dining room.

Organizing the Kitchen

These are our new canisters for flour and sugar and such.  Unfortunately we only have about 6 feet of working counter space, so I had to do a little rearranging.  This is our pantry.  It's only 2 feet across which is tiny.  At any rate this is what we ended up with.

Yes, our microwave is in our pantry.  As is our coffee pot, slow cooker, blender, and stock pot.  Refer to the aforementioned lack of counter space.  Basically the only things that stay on the counter are the toaster and stand mixer, and they are shoved in the corner.  Oh, and can goods go in a shallow metal rack screwed onto the side cabinet next to the stove.

Fish Tacos

There are three main components to this dish, all of which are rather simple.  You start with fresh tilapia fillets, add a roasted corn, black bean and jalapeno jumble, and put it all in a slightly warmed corn tortilla.  Quite filling and easy.

Fish Makins Ingredients; Makes enough for 2-3 servings(2 tacos per serving)
2 Tilapia fillets ( I like to get them fresh from the butcher counter, but frozen is fine too.  Just thaw before cooking)
1 c. flour per 2-3 fillets
1 c. milk
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/8-1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
Vegetable Oil optional (if you want to fry then you need oil, but can also be baked.)
Non-Latex Gloves

To Make:
Mix flour and spices together in wide bowl.  Pour milk into separate yet similarly sized wide bowl.  (If frying fish in deep fryer let it preheat now, if in skillet on the stove top let your oil come up to temperature and put on an apron!  If baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a baking sheet.)  Coat both sides of your fillet(s) in flour, then milk, then flour again.  You may want to wear gloves to avoid discoloring on your hands from the spices, otherwise you'll have orange finger tips for the next day or so.  (non-latex gloves from the drugstore work fine, and they are very inexpensive)  When you have coated your fillets, place in hot oil or on pan.  If frying in deep fryer let them cook about 6-7 minutes, in a skillet they will need about 3-4 minutes on each side.  If baking, let them bake about 8-10 minutes or until cooked through, and you may want to turn half-way through.  When all fillets have finished cooking set them aside on a paper towel lined plate and try (hard as it may be) not to taste test because it will be difficult to stop!
*Note* You could also grill your fish, but the added crunch is nice.

Fillin Makins Ingredients;
This is a Roasted Corn, Black Bean, and Jalapeno Jumble

1 fresh jalapeno seeded and minced
1 fresh poblano seeded and diced
1 fresh green bell pepper seeded and diced
1/4-1/2 fresh red bell pepper seeded and diced
1/4 yellow onion diced
1/4 purple onion diced
1-2 cloves garlic minced
1 can black beans drained
2-3 c. frozen corn
1-2 roma tomatoes diced
1/2-1 bunch fresh cilantro finely chopped
1 package corn tortillas

To Make:
Preheat your skillet to medium high heat.  Roast your corn and peppers for about 5-10 minutes.  Add all other vegetables and a small amount of olive oil.  Continue cooking for just long enough to be warm through(about 1-2 minutes). *Could also add chopped green chiles.
Warm tortillas on clean skillet/griddle.

Break Fish into pieces.  Fill tortillas with fish, Jumble, cheese and sour cream.  May also add salsa.  Enjoy.

**1 fillet is really enough for 2 people @ 2 tacos each.  The filling recipe prepares enough for 6-8 servings (2 tacos per serving).  Adjust fish ingredients according to how many you want to serve.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kitchen Sink Pizza

Kitchen Sink Pizza, some people call it Ratatouille Pizza
because it has almost everything in it except the kitchen sink
Actually you can put just about anything on it, but here is what I did;

1 can pizza dough (we like the thin crust) it rolls out into 9x13" rectangle
4 oz. can tomato sauce (if you can't get it this small just get a regular can and use about 1/2)
1tsp. italian seasoning
1 small pkg. italian sausage (cooked and crumbled)
1 small pkg. pepperoni slices
1 bag (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small yellow squash, quartered and thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
2-3 small red potatoes, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 small purple onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2-3 roma tomatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 package fresh mushroom slices

Note; Before you start, this is a deep fork-it kind of pizza, and you will definitely need a dish that has sides tall enough to hold in all the stuff.  So, put away your flat pizza stone (sacrilege, I know), and find a deeper dish.  (see the dish I received from my in-laws a few posts back, it was perfect!)

Now that all your veggies are chopped and your sausage is cooked preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray your baking dish with non-stick spray and roll out your dough.  If it doesn't cover the whole dish just stretch it into the whole dish.  If you get a hole, don't panic!  Just smush it back together, it will be fine, trust me!  I pre-cook my pizza dough for about 5 minutes, it's just a personal preference.   Once your dough is ready spread tomato sauce over it thinly.  Sprinkle with italian seasoning.   Next spread all your vegetables on, making sure to get a good spread of each.  If you want a picture, take it now because it's not as pretty after it cooks.  Next just place your sausage crumbles and about 20 pepperonis over the top.  Cover with cheese.  Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes.  (If you don't want ANY crunch on potatoes you might pre-cook them for 10 minutes in a skillet.  They will be mostly cooked without a pre-cook, but some may still have a slight crunch.)  Slice into squares and enjoy!  Serves 4-8 depending on size of serving/person.  One 4-5" slice per person is quite filling...especially if you have any other sides, but very filling even by itself.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Infamous Menu Board

 This is our menu board.
 Just a simple small dry erase board where I can plan our meals for the month, and the groceries needed to make them.  It sits on the side of the refrigerator(held up with magnets) next to the stove so we can quickly see what we are having.

It seems we discuss this with most people we know.  If you've ever heard me talk about budgeting, or planning meals, or grocery listing, this has probably come up.  Before we started doing this I threw so much food in the garbage, and wasted so much money because we didn't eat what we bought.  I've been using this planning method for 6 months to a year and we love it! 

As you can see I write out each weeks' meals and look at what's in the cabinet to either plan around what's available, or decide what I need to purchase.  It works great for us, and there isn't much question as to what we can have.  I don't always stick to the plan, and we often move meals to a different day depending on what's going on during the week.   Days with a squiggle mean we know we won't be eating at home, whether we have planned a meal out, or a get together.  After we've had a meal, I mark through it with a diagonal line.  I keep our grocery list under the menu in case I need to go back for fresh ingredients later-such as fish or herbs.  I know most people aren't so worried about it, but it has made a real difference in how I shop and prepare.

The more you know...

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
hamburger buns, or sesame buns
1/2c. blue cheese crumbles
1/2c. peppercorn ranch dressing
1-2c. all purpose flour
1tsp. coarse salt
1tsp. ground black pepper
1Tbsp. paprika
1/2c. milk
Tomato Slices
1-2c. vegetable oil(if pan frying)
2-4 Tbsp. Frank's Red Hot Wings Buffalo Sauce

Mix flour, paprika, salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken breasts in flour, then milk, then flour.  Place coated breasts into hot oil for about 3 minutes ( I do this in a fry daddy so it isn't as messy) for a quick pan fry.   Take out and place  on baking sheet, then pour buffalo sauce on each breast.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes to fully cook chicken.  Doing this will ensure a juicy flavorful piece of meat.  Once cooked through slather ranch dressing on both buns.  Put blue cheese crumbles on bottom bun, then meat, then tomato, lettuce, and top bun.  Serves 4-8.  If the breasts are extra large, cut them in half to make 8 sandwiches.

Fries optional, but if you choose to serve them Ore-ida Extra Crispy fry/bake up the best without a weird after-taste.  I did these a special treat since we don't have them much.