Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In case you didn't know...

I was sooooo excited to complete a sewing project from start to finish all on my own.  

I got my inspiration from The Cottage Home, I saw one of their pillowcase projects on Pinterest.  I looked over the directions and knew I could pull this off on my own.  

One of the first things I learned at my lessons was how to do a french seam.  The french seam gives the inside of a garment/project a clean finished look, no unfinished/raw edges exposed.

I picked colors that would match my current bedspread, even though I wanted to make a pillowcase with the most adorable fabric that had popsicles on it.   While at the fabric store I also picked up a rotary cutter, mat and ruler.  This made the cutting easier.  

The project was called the 15 minute pillowcase, and it took me about an hour.  I really took my time and followed the directions, which is essential for a someone new to sewing.
 I really was pleased with the final results, just ask my family, I walked around the house with the pillow showing them for two days.

Sewing Part 2

A while back I had talked about the duvet covers I was sewing for the boys rooms.  The first one took me weeks to do, with the help of Joyce, my sewing instructor of course.  The second one went faster. and I felt the sewing was better too.  I guess practice really does make perfect, and I use "perfect" loosely.  I still needed help from Joyce, but I was able to do more on my own than I expected.

I was nervous about doing button holes, and I think you can probably understand.  But it went smoothly, I did them myself at Joyce's house.  She stood by in case I panicked.

This is the top of the duvet with button closures.

The duvet is reversible, and I used the embellishment that was already on the sheets for the backside.  This way if I did use the reverse side it wasn't just a "plain" sheet.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Knock You Naked Brownies


Well it certainly has been some time since I sat down to do some writing.  I have been busy playing scramble on the ipad and reading a book (if you can actually picture that), those are in addition to the things life generally brings like dinner, laundry and kids activities.

     I haven't gotten away from baking and crafting, as those are things that I do love to do.  So one night I was headed to my friend Barb's for a night of card making, I didn't want to go empty handed so I broke out my new Pioneer Woman cookbook.  I flipped through the pages looking for just the right dessert to bring and what did I see but "Knock You Naked" Brownies.  If the name wasn't catchy enough I don't know what would be.  A quick view of the recipe and I was off to the supermarket for a bag of caramels.

     So I get home and I start unwrapping caramels to get them in my new double boiler, I was itching to use that thing.  The for the can of evaporated!  I only had sweetened condensed milk in the house, but I was not going back to the supermarket, I can improvise.  I used the sweetened condensed milk, but I also added a splash of regular milk as sweetened condensed milk is thicker than the evaporated.

     The recipe also called for a 9X9 baking pan, which I didn't have.  I did have a 8X8 baker so that was going to have to do.

     I have to tell you these brownies were a hit with my husband and I quote "Please don't leave those brownies at home again, take the whole pan with you next time.  I was like a junkie eating them, they are so good."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St Patrick's Day

Well it was really a perfect day for St Patrick's Day.  Sunny and close to 70 degrees.  I remember years when it was so cold and windy that it was actually torture walking up Fifth Avenue, but I wouldn't let the weather keep me away.

Many years have gone by since I marched with the NYC Transit Police Department, which was disbanded in 1995 and merged with the New York City Police Department.  For a few years after the merger we continued with our own Emerald Society.  Those were the days...

This year I broke out my St Patrick's Day stamp and made some cards.  I found some Irish sayings that fit perfectly around the edge of the cards.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sewing Part 1

Well, I have to say for years I wanted to learn how to sew.  Of course I put the cart before the horse and bought a sewing machine about 10 years ago one Black Friday in Walmart.  I thought I could read the instructions and it would all fall into place.  Needless to say I was sadly mistaken.  

Okay, now lets talk about the present.  I have been taking sewing lessons from a woman who is has the patience of a saint.  I went there a few times and she would go over the basics, threading the machine, putting the bobbin in, making the bobbin.  Then I would go home with homework and panic, show up for my lesson and tell her I thought about throwing the machine out the window.  Well I have gotten past that and am working on my first official project, duvet covers for my boys.  (I did have another project I had started on my own and that was an apron that I never finished, and barely started.  Enough said)

This night I was working on sewing ties onto the duvet so that the down comforter will be secure when inside the cover.  That task went off without a hitch, except for the one make I forgot what I was suppose to do there.

Phase 1 Duvet... check.

Phase 2 Duvet... this weeks lesson.

I will keep you posted.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Zucchini Sticks

One thing I really enjoy as an appetizer out at a restaurant is zucchini sticks, so when I saw them on pinterest I pinned them.  The recipe is from King Arthur Flour and it comes with a great dipping sauce, well it comes with a recipe for the dipping sauce.  The sauce isn't your usual run of the mill marinara for the sticks but a sweet onion sauce, yummy.

I started with the cutest petite zucchini from Trader Joe's, I quartered them and salted them for about half an hour.

Rinsing off the salt, then drying on a paper towel.

Instead of dirtying up another bowl, I put the dried sticks into a ziploc with the egg and shook up the bag.  Then laid them out in a single layer on parchment brushed with olive oil.

Well when they came out of the oven they were delicious, a hands down keeper.  The sauce was good, but I felt like it needed a little horseradish or cayenne for a "zip".  What did I do before pinterest?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Will you be mine?

Valentines day is right around the corner and I wanted to make cards for my husband and two boys.  I recently purchased a heart punch because I had some ideas.  I also found some inspiration from pinterest of course, using paint chips.  You can find lots of shades of colors and they are free.  I took one of each from the red family.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Valentine Banner

Well Valentines Day is right around the corner and I needed to put something festive up since all but one Christmas decoration has been put away. The house looks so barren with all of that stuff put away until after next Thanksgiving.

 I was going to make a banner with heart shapes, but I decided on using this one sheet of paper that had some of the cutest little pictures. The paper was 12x12 and was divided into 24 rectangular pictures, they almost looked like they were meant to be cards. At first I thought I would make a matching game, I got that idea from my friend Meagan she has a shop on facebook called the The Girl Next Door, but not all of the pictures were duplicated.

 I cut out all of the pictures and matted them with a pinkish/lavender card stock, and tied them off with some pink and white bakers twine. I have been dying to use the bakers twine for a project. They came out cute, they look a little small over my back door, they may look better in a smaller room.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I'm Sweet and Tart

That is what caught my eye, sweet and tart on a bag of Meyer lemons in Walmart.  While I had heard of Meyer lemons, I had never actually seen them in the store.  What also made them more worth while was the price $1.98 for a whole bag, and there had to be 10 lemons in the bag.

I didn't have to look far for a recipe, there was what sounded like a great one on the bag, Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake.  The only unusual ingredient was the lemons themselves, and well I had already found them.

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

3 Meyer Lemons
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
3 Large Eggs, Separated
1 Cup Whole Milk, at room temperature
4 Tbsp Butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 300 degrees., butter an 8X8 baker.  Finely grate 2 teaspoons of zest, then squeeze 1/3 cup of juice, set aside.  Combine dry ingredients.  Whisk together yolks, milk, butter, lemon zest and juice.  Add flour to the mixture and whisk until combined.  Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Stir 1/3 egg whites into batter to lighten.  Fold in remaining egg whites.  Pour into prepared pan, bake until golden 35-40 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

I really liked this recipe and it was real easy to make.  The cake was moist and light.  I had berries to serve it with for the company we were having but forgot to put them out.  I did lightly dust the cake with powdered sugar to finish it off.  This is a keeper.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crockpot Caramel

There is a running joke between me and my husband about what I look at on the computer in the evening.  I usually spend an hour a night skimming through pinterest, he calls it "Missy Porn".  Well on pinterest was where I spotted a picture of a can of caramel, and who doesn't love caramel?

The recipe, which wasn't really a recipe more of directions, and even they were not challenging, was to place a closed can of sweetened condensed milk into the crockpot and cover with water.  Cook on low for  8 hours.  Cool for am hour and open & serve.

Well I have to tell you I expected it to me a little smoother, silkier maybe.  The consistency was thick and not pourable, so I heated a small amount in a glass bowl in the microwave figuring it would melt.  Well I was wrong, it created a more undesirable consistency, kind of lumpy.  Overall the flavor was good, but without that pourable consistency I don't know if I would make it again.  Never say never though, it probably would make a great frosting or filling for a layer cake.

***UPDATE***  I have to tell you after is was chilled in the refrigerator I liked the consistency better, so I would make again to fill a cake with.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's breakfast for dinner.

At least once a week I get on the mood for breakfast food for dinner.  Whether it be waffles, pancakes, crepes and this week french toast, all yummy and cozy on a cold winter night.

I used a good loaf of challah bread, and had it sliced at the bakery.  I wish they could make slightly thicker slices but it seems the bakery has one size fits all slicing.

It may sound silly to some people, but I actually use a recipe for french toast.  On my own I never know ratio of egg to milk, is my batter to think or thin?  So once again I go to my trusty America's Test Kitchen Cookbook because they have worked out all the kinks for me.


8 slices quality white sandwich bread
6 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter and whisk it together with milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.  Slowly whisk in the flour until smooth.

Soak bread 2 slices at a time in the batter.  In the meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp butter at a time in the non-stick skillet to cook the french toast.  Let excess batter drip off of bread before putting into the pan.  Cook about 2 1/2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Serve with warmed maple syrup.

Now, there a few things I changed in this recipe.  The milk originally called for whole milk, I only had 1% and that worked fine.  The flour called for all -purpose flour and I used whole wheat.  I also left out the salt because I used salted butter, I never even buy unsalted butter.  The original recipe also called for drying out the bread in the oven prior to soaking it in the batter, I am just too lazy for that extra step.

Even with my changes to the already tweaked ATK recipe it was a huge hit at our house, and it made more than enough to freeze for future quick breakfasts.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Celebrating the New Year with Nutella Bread Pudding

Well, I went through a lot of changes last year and all for the good.  There are always new things on my plate, which I like.  My #1 priority is to get healthy, I have a lot of living to do and want to feel great doing it.  But of course I wanted to go out with a bang on New Years Eve.

Well that "BANG" was a Nutella Bread Pudding in the crockpot!  I am a lover of hot desserts, especially hot chocolate desserts.

I started with a loaf of challah bread from Rockland Bakery, if you have never been there and are in Rockland County it is a must stop into place.  You walk right into the back of this gigantic "warehouse" where bagels are coming right out of the oven onto a conveyor belt, fresh loaves are wheeled out on huge racks, and oh the pastries and sweets are overwhelming.  You help yourself with a gloved hand of course.  I should do a segment on that place alone, kind of like a field trip.  I get excited just thinking about it.

The recipe can be found at the Americas Test Kitchen Blog, and it was easy to follow.  One of the only changes I made were to prepping the crockpot with an aluminum foil liner, and I replaced it with one of the new crockpot liners.  They are similar to oven bags and they keep the clean up to a minimum.