Sewing Project: Child’s Apron

•January 23, 2012 • 2 Comments

I finally felt brave enough this year to sew homemade holiday gifts for a few people. After a bit of trial and error, most everything worked out pretty well (phew!). Without a doubt, these child-size aprons were my favorite projects to work on — especially since they were gifted to two of my favorite pint-sized little girls.

After a bit of googling, I settled on this pattern for a wee apron. What I love about the pattern is that it’s Montessori and so geared toward helping kids independently put the aprons on themselves, with the help of a Velcro waist strap and elastic neck strap to easily lift over the head.

 

 

Hope the apprentice bakers enjoy their new threads!

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Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

•December 9, 2011 • 1 Comment

Thanksgiving is always my favorite holiday. Partially because there are no gifts, no pressures, just a (generally) relaxing day spent with family and friends and feeling thankful. And partially because of the delicious food. What? I’m a total foodie at heart.

This year we did three Thanksgivings. The last one was just for us. We decided to get a big turkey and cook it up for the fun of it and for the leftovers. Instead of the 12-pounder we got last year, I came home to find a 20-pound bird in my fridge. Yes, 20 pounds. Who was coming to dinner, you ask? Dozens of people, surely. Nope, just a happy foursome and a wee one who doesn’t yet have teeth so didn’t get to partake in the poultry.

Once again, as last year, we went with Bobby Flay’s turkey recipe. It creates the crispiest, tastiest skin and moist, light turkey. Yum!

So, needless to say, we had three delicious turkeys throughout Thanksgiving week, and somehow ended up with leftovers from four turkeys. But no one was complaining. Turkey leftovers are a favorite around here! We’ve made turkey enchilada pie, turkey tetrazzini, and … time for turkey pie!

I went directly to the best source for this one and used Sam the Cooking Guy’s recipe for Turkey Pie — with a few small adaptations.

Isn’t she a beaut?

Turkey Pot Pie

Recipe courtesy Sam the Cooking Guy (somewhat adapted)

1 ready to bake refrigerated pie crust
2 cups diced, cooked turkey
3 carrots, sliced
8 ounces pancetta, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon sage
3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 450 F. Saute onions, carrots, celery, sage and pancetta in 1 tablespoon of the butter until softened. Add turkey to mixture and put into pie plate. In same pan, melt remaining butter while stirring in flour. Stir in broth slowly to make a thick sauce and add Worcestershire. Pour over turkey mixture. Top with crust and brush top with milk. Bake until top is golden brown, about 20 minutes, and serve.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

•December 8, 2011 • 1 Comment

I came across this recipe on Pinterest (where, it seems, I find everything lately) and the original pinner had written: “The fluffiest, chewiest, most amazing chocolate chip cookies.”

Well, that seems like enough for me! I knew I had to try these out at once. And I can say that the recommendation was totally true. These really are the best chocolate chip cookies. I am hanging onto this recipe forever!

So good I couldn’t resist a bite!

Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe courtesy Apple a Day, who adapted it slightly from Anna Olson, Food Network Canada

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used semisweet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using mixer, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in. Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate.

Drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  Tops won’t be brown. Don’t bake longer than 10 minutes (this ensures that delicious softness). Cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.

Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup

•December 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

My Vitamix recently turned one year old and in celebration I decided to (finally) share this delicious Vitamix recipe. Even if you don’t have a Vitamix, it would be pretty easy to do with an immersion blender or mixer or any other type of high-powered blender. It was super easy (and fast!) to make, and really thick and creamy. My favorite kind of potato soup!

Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup

Makes 2 servings.

2 cups skim milk
2 mediums potatoes, baked
1/3 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 small onions, sliced, sauteed
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces turkey bacon, cooked, crumbled

Place milk, one potato, cheese, onion, dill, rosemary and salt into blender in order listed and secure lid. Turn on and quickly increase speed to high. Blend 4 minutes or until heavy steam escapes from vented lid. Reduce speed to low. Remove lid plug and drop in remaining potato and bacon. Blend 10 seconds, until chopped.

Chocolate Donuts

•December 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Recently, I’ve had quite the obsession with baking donuts. I even went so far as to buy a donut pan. Obsession. I have pinned a jillion recipes on Pinterest and tried out a few (but with so-so results). Then I found this recipe on All Recipes and…we have a winner! These were yummy and cakey and oh-so-chocolatey. But, really, when do you ever go wrong with chocolate? They were delicious and now I’m on a donut roll (haha, get it? Roll? Yeah, that was bad.). More to come I’m sure!

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake Donuts

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 425. Spray donut pan with cooking spray.

In mixer, sift flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add buttermilk. Stir. Add butter and vanilla. Stir.  Add eggs one at a time, stirring in between each egg. Beat until just combined. Fill each donut mold about 2/3 full.

Bake for 7 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool while you make the chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a bowl combine chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each time until smooth. Do not overcook. Frost donuts, add sprinkles, and eat!

Apple Pie

•November 22, 2011 • 1 Comment

I spent a fun day in Julian (up in our nearby mountains) last month picking apples. It was something I’ve always wanted to do (bucket list!) and definitely something we’ll do again in coming years. Fun fall tradition! And I ended up with bags of freshly picked organic apples. Yum!

And what to do with said apples? Well, I’ve been working our way through the bags for the past month (yes, I still have some left), making applesauce, applesauce cookies, butternut squash and apple soup, apple oat bars, and eating an apple a day (at least!). What else to do with an abundance of apples?

Make apple pie! I realized I didn’t have a tried and true recipe so googled around and found a couple different recipes on All Recipes. The crust and pie came from different recipes and I slightly adapted to fit our tastes. It was so delicious! I want to make this again for sure! Another fall tradition in the making.

Apple  Pie

Crust
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup ice water

Combine flour and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Cut butter into tablespoon pieces; add to bowl. Use the paddle beater to cut the butter and flour together.

With the mixer on low speed, pour in water. When dough starts to clump, and before it turns into a ball, stop stirring.

Lightly knead dough in the bowl until it forms a ball. Divide dough into two parts. Flatten each part into a disk, and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out and place one crust into pie dish.

Pie
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
7 cups thinly sliced pared apples, peeled (about 5 large apples)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg white
Additional sugar

In small bowl, combine sugar, flour and spices; set aside. In large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. Add sugar mixture; toss well to coat. Place apple filling into crust in pie dish; dot with butter. Roll out remaining dough to fit top of pie. Cut a few slits in top. Beat egg white until foamy; brush over pastry. Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes. Increase temperature to 400 degrees and bake 10-15 minutes more or until golden.

Books of the Year

•November 17, 2011 • 4 Comments

A friend recently reminded me that I haven’t done a book recap in a while. So, here it is! Some of my favorites from this past year.

Room by Emma Donaghue
I actually read this a year ago, but it was good enough to make my 2011 list. It’s a very unique story and told from an unusual perspective. Warning: Keep in mind that this is about a kidnapped young woman forced to bear her attacker’s child — this doesn’t give anything away and I don’t recall the book being graphic at all, but still wanted to give that head’s up.

 

 

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

So this is really long (almost 800 pages) but I read it in about three days. I read it on my Kindle so had no idea it was so long when I started it; otherwise I probably would have skipped it! But glad I didn’t because it was very good. Beautifully written with great storytelling. About a Jewish Hungarian family during WWII and how Hungary fared during the Holocaust. I realized that while I’ve read plenty of books about both the war and the Holocaust, I didn’t know much about how the war affected Hungary. It was an interesting, compelling read and the characters really developed over the pages.

 

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
Um, awesome! Basically it’s a mostly true biography of Lincoln, but with vampires thrown in. Really interesting from a historical perspective, and just plain fun. Totally loved it. Same guy who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (of which I am also a huge fan). Currently filming the movie (I think Tim Burton?), which is sure to be excellent.

 

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Because I love her. I heard that it’s best to listen to the audiobook, which is actually read by Tina, but I got my hands on a hard copy first so I went that route. It’s so hilarious; i was actually LOLing (yes, I went there) at some points. A fun, easy read.

 

 

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (also, the sequel: Dreams of Joy)
She wrote Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, so this is another about a Chinese family (specifically, sisters). Recommend reading them together since Shanghai Girls leaves off on a cliffhanger, where the sequel picks right up. Both revolve around China during WWII and the Cold War.

 

 

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
I was really late in the game in reading this (it won the Pulitzer several years back), but it’s excellent and I still recommend. He’s just come out with a new book that I really want to read. Middlesex is the history of a family who migrates from Greece to Michigan, all told from the point of view of one child who happens to be a hermaphrodite and all that happens to affect their lives.

 

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
This is a bit of a thriller, and there are some graphic moments for sure, but I couldn’t put it down. It’s also about a kidnapping (not sure why that is a theme here!) but has an incredible level of suspense to it and lots of twists and turns.

 

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I just finished reading this for my book club and already can recommend it. It’s a fascinating true story about a black woman in the 50s who died of cervical cancer, but who first unknowingly had her cervical cells taken and used in research. They went on to become the first-ever immortal cells, and are still used across the world in research today. It was a fascinating read, all the more because it was a true story. Very different from anything else I’ve read in a long while.

These are just a few of my top favorites from this year. I didn’t even go into the YA favorites! That might be a separate post. 🙂 What have you read this year that I need to add to my list?