Bake

Monthly Archives: January 2013

It’s snowing…again

In the long stretch of January and February I begin to dream a little of my summer garden and green growing things and losing 100 pounds and getting plastic surgery, wait..no those last two are all year round.  Anyway,  this last summer I made a delicious watermelon cooler.  I made a non-alcoholic one but you could easily add vodka or something similar to it to give it a kick.

Here is a little recipe to remind you of summer.  Enjoy!

 

Start with some fresh, sweet watermelon.  Dice it and puree it in a blender or food processor.  Strain it as best you can, this can be difficult and frustrating (oh, by the way, Don’t use a french press for this. Bad idea.) but it is worth it.

Soon you’ll have some delicious watermelon juice.  So pretty!

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Next, take some sweet mint and muddle it in the bottom of a cup.  I just did it with my straw.  My mint is a chocolate mint that smells amazing.  I planted it in my side yard and I sincerely hope it takes over the entire neighborhood (It spreads like crazy. Mwahhahaha!)

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Put in as much ice as you like and then pour in a cup or so of watermelon juice. Now is the time to add that vodka (if you want to)

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Fill up the rest with Sprite or similar soda, sit back and sip the taste of summer.  Aaaah, refreshing!

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Goings on

Well, I certainly hope all of you had a better weekend than I did.  The hubs was gone for most of last week and the weekend so I was main jailer for the duration.  By Saturday we were all ready to see other people.

The girl spawn with red hair decided that this was the moment, the best possible time to cut her hair….

 

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Yes, I know.  They all do it…. Still, I thought this one was smarter than that, even if she is only 3.  I was wrong.  The really frustrating part to me is that she doesn’t care.  There isn’t any bribe (or threat) that makes an impression for longer than 5 seconds on this girl. Aaahhhh!

Yesterday, I took her to the salon and got it cut to blend it in a little bit.  It felt a bit like I was rewarding her for being naughty (she loves getting her hair cut at a shop) but what can you do?  At first the lady cut it into a mullet (seriously, a mullet) so I had her make it a bob instead. It seems to suit her.

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In other news, we are repainting one of the rooms in our house so I’m foraging for ideas. I found this nifty little website while looking around for possible colors.  I love it!  I am hopeless at picking out colors that go together.  Really bad at it.  This seems like a perfect thing for someone that is color matching challenged.  Also, an awesome way to pick out quilt palettes.  I’ve been pinning the crap out of the palettes and other stuff so visit our Pinterest boards (Design Stuff) and check it out.

 

Chipotle Mac N Cheese

Chipotle Mac n cheese

It’s no secret that I couldn’t cook my way out of a box of Hamburger Helper.  You may think I’m using the classic under sell, over deliver approach or lying for compliments (like skinny girls who say they are fat even though they know they’re skinny)…but it’s absolutely true.  I even had to attend a scrambled eggs workshop (the instructor just happens to be my husband) so I could feed my son breakfast.  Thank the Sweet Lord, I married a man that can cook because I don’t think you’re supposed to raise children on cookies and cupcakes alone…though I could be wrong.  But seriously, a little advice to all our male readers: learn to cook and watch the ladies swoon.

Once upon a time, when we lived a life unfettered and unencumbered by a child, we could go anywhere on a whim and could often be found on a weeknight at one of our favorite places – Flemings Steakhouse.  We would start with a bottle of wine and wash it down with a huge helping of a heavenly masterpiece known as Chipotle Mac N Cheese.  Well, that life is dead and buried but thanks to my talented husband we were able to re-create a little of that magic at home.  I present to you – Flemings Chipotle Mac N Cheese.

This recipe yields enough for six single serve ramekins.

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Ingredients
8 ounces pasta ( cavatappi or curly)
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup shallots
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 & 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon white pepper ( ground)
1/4 lb smoked cheese – cheddar, Gouda etc
1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chipotle powder (chipotle chili powder)
1/2 cup panko

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot, boil pasta with salt.
Drain pasta and cool under cold running water. Pasta should be slightly firm. Toss drained pasta in oil and reserve.
Melt butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat.
Add onions and saute for 4 – 5 minute.
Add flour and cook 1 – 2 minute but do not brown.
Add cream, half and half, kosher salt and white pepper.
Bring pot to a simmer. Cook until sauce is thick, about 5 – 6 minutes.
Blend cheese into sauce and add cooked pasta.

imagePour pasta and sauce into ramekins. Reserve.imageIn a saute pan over medium-high heat, add oil and Chipotle chili powder. Heat for 30 seconds, until pan starts to smoke.

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Remove from stove and stir in bread crumbs.
Sprinkle bread crumbs over the pasta and bake for 15 – 20 minute until golden.
Cool slightly before serving.

We inhaled this as a side to absolutely mouth-watering salmon (another hubby specialty) but you really could eat it as an entree. It’s that caliber of delicious…the kind that makes your eyes involuntarily close and roll back in your head…you know what I’m talking about.

The sock gnomes are all up in my house

I have a baby.  That baby is sick right now.  He has been up every hour of the night time for 3 days running.  I’m getting a little hallucinatey ( this is a word, I promise).

The sock gnomes have eaten all of this baby’s socks.  I look like a horrible mother when we go out cause my baby has no socks.  I guess I could buy some but I think that’s what the S.G’s want.  I’m pretty sure they are aggressively recruited by Fruit of the Loom and Hanes to do what they do best.  That’s right S.G.’s, I know all about your little “arrangement”…….  Where was I..?  Oh, yes, why buy socks when I have some baby leggings that don’t get used.

They are in perfectly good shape, I just don’t use them.  So I took my serger and sewing machine to them.  There aren’t any tutorials on turning leggings into socks so I was flying blind on this one.  Here are the results of the experiment.

Here is the first try.

Straight forward.  I drew a toe curve on the bottom and serged it.  The result was a weird, slouchy, unfitted sock….not what I was hoping for.

 

Attempt number 2

This one worked out soo much better.  I drew the toe curve again and only cut through one layer of the fabric.  Flipped inside out and brought the toe over a bit, see the little triangle (sort of traingle-ish…maybe…) at the heel side? Flatten it and pin it, that’s what you want.  Take it to your serger and sew it. You’ll end up with something like 4th picture there.  Fray check the seams and flip right side out. See? Not as pouchy and weird.  This is much more like what I wanted but I bet I’ll be tweaking this a bit more.

Put them on your baby and thumb your nose at the Sock Gnome Clothing Industrial Complex (SGCIC).  Your move, S.G., your move….

Irish Hot Chocolate

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So I know this recipe doesn’t necessarily fit the ‘bake’ category, but sometimes I would just rather drink my calories. Also it’s like -5 degrees outside and a couple of hot, steaming mugs of this dreamy concoction is guaranteed to enhance any baking experience…or diaper changing experience…or laundry folding…or vacuuming…you get it.

If you have to enjoy this in the company of other judgy moms that for some reason have a problem drinking first thing in the morning on a Wednesday, then you can easily leave out the Baileys and add a little more sugar or semi-sweet chocolate. But just remember the old saying ‘A friend that makes you choose between chocolate or booze, is really no friend at all’. People say that, right?

The hot chocolate:
1/2 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder – try Scharffen Berger, you won’t be disappointed.
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cold water
2 1/4 cups milk – scalded
3/4 cup half & half or heavy cream – scalded
1/2 cup Baileys – to taste

In a heavy saucepan, heat milk and cream on medium heat until it bubbles around the edges and gives off steam. Remove from heat.

In another saucepan, combine cocoa powder, espresso, water, vanilla, sugar and dash of salt until it dissolves into a paste-like mixture.

Gradually add in the scalded milk/cream and whisk, allowing to simmer for two minutes.

Stir in Baileys. I found that 1/2 cup was sufficiently boozy for me. You may start with a little less and taste.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pre-chill mixing bowl and beaters. Beat one cup of whipping cream until soft peaks are just forming. Add in the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy.

Pour hot chocolate into your favorite mug (or thermos if you’re trying to get schwasted) and top with homemade whip cream. Sprinkle the top with espresso powder, cocoa or chocolate shavings. This also makes an excellent coffee drink – just add a bit to your morning cup of joe.

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Adapted from Gourmet Magazine.

S.F.S.

Hi.  My name is Craft, and I’m an addict.

I’m addicted to Sewing For Strangers.  Or Sewing For Mild Acquaintances ( doesn’t have quite the same ring to it).  I am, though.   Addicted to this.

Shall I list some of the poor Strangers that have received sewn items from me (and the consequences of said gift giving)?  Oh, yes, let’s do.

I sewed a set of knit baby blankets and burp cloths for a woman who worked at a Panera Bread near my house. Yes, she was pregnant (I was pregnant at the same time, it felt like a bonding thing)  Never saw her again.  SHE QUIT HER JOB TO AVOID SEEING THE CREEPY LADY WHO SEWED HER THINGS (or at least that’s how it went in my head)  No pictures of these, they were from the early days of my sewing.

 

I sewed a fleece blanket, quilt and knitted a baby cap for a woman who worked at a Panera Bread (same Panera, different lady). End result was the same.  NEVER SAW HER AGAIN.

 

I sewed a baby quilt for someone my husband works with.   They are moving north, far away.  SO THEY DON”T HAVE TO SPEAK TO ME AGAIN (at least that’s how it is in my head)

 

I sewed a baby quilt and stuffed monster for someone my husband works with.  Woman never acknowledged gift.  DOESN’T WANT TO SPEAK TO ME (at least that’s how it is in my head).

 

I’m trying to figure out exactly what about handmade items makes people uncomfortable.  Is it that I don’t know them very well?  Is it that these items suck so bad they can’t even face me again?  Am I somehow trying to buy friendship with crafting?   These are the questions that need to be answered.  I  have some more Strangers to sew for so I’ll get to collect more data for this examination.

So for all those bloggers out there that yarn bomb trees and think it’s soooo cute, or those of you that leave secret notes of motivation around for random people to find, these are the consequences of Sewing For Strangers. People don’t like crafts from strangers….(or at least they don’t like mine. Hmmm..).

 

The Big One!

My baby is officially one.  We decided to save the $80,000 diamond encrusted Matchbox Car for his second birthday, when he can appreciate it more, and instead opted for a quiet party at home with just the three of us.  We had planned to video chat with all of our family members simultaneously for the big cake smash, but Skype doesn’t have that functionality for iPad – which is totally bananas and something they failed to mention when I paid for a premium account!  Seriously, get with it, Skype!  We just did individual video sessions and it was fine, but just not what we had in mind.  It was surprisingly hectic trying to get everything set up for the shot.  At one point my husband very seriously said, “We need to speed things up here.  We go live in 5 minutes.”   We both laughed about it afterwards…oh, the pressures of live broadcast.

Here’s what my baby’s big day looked like…I’ll be sharing some recipes and tutorials soon.

First Birthday Cupcakes

Adorable printables from Jenn Hardie’s Etsy Shop – nickwilljack.etsy.com – I highly recommend.  She was awesome to work with and even designed a custom high chair banner for the birthday boy.

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Sugar cookie with mint buttercream frosting recipe found here.  I used melted chocolate to pipe the words because anytime I can use chocolate,  I will.

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Super high-tech video chat set up.

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The Giant Cupcake birthday cake (recipe & tutorial coming soon) and the birthday boy!  He didn’t quite get the smashing action going on that I was hoping for.  He was actually quite delicate, which is the last word I would normally use to describe this bruiser.

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The table…

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The proud parents…that’s me!

Let the planning begin for next year!  Just kidding….kind of.

These are a few of my favorite things…

Hello!  I was shopping earlier today (yay!) and I picked up a few quilting/sewing essentials. Well, essential for me anyway.

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These tools are things I hate to lose or do without so I pick up extras when they are on sale.

 

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First up is the measuring gauge.  I LOVE THIS THING.  When I first started sewing I was absolutely horrible at determining seam allowance by eye, I’m still not much better but I’m getting there.  This delightful little tool will help you keep your seam at 5/8 or 1/4 or 1/2 or your hem at 1 1/2 or 3/4.  I also use it when I’m making custom softies.  I draw out my pattern and test it and if it needs sizing up (or down) I use the gauge to add it (or decrease) it.  What’s also nice about this, if you are measurement deficient like me, no counting tiny tick marks on a ruler!  Yay for being lazy!  GET ONE, you’ll thank me.

 

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Marking pens.  I use them constantly.  Great for marking eye placement and seam allowances.  These are nice because they come out with air (purple side) or a little bit of spit.. er..I mean water (blue side)  Yeah, like you don’t use spit for this stuff too.  My only complaint about them is they don’t mark well on fluffy fabrics like fleece.  Other than that these are like gold.

 

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Seam ripper.  Sigh…. I have a love/hate relationship with these.  I’m glad they exist because it’s easier than cutting new pieces totally but if I’m using one that means I screwed up somewhere…. Still, keep em sharp people. You never know when you’ll need one.

Well, that’s what I got for now.  I’m working on a quilt for a baby that will soon be born to a friend. I might even get this one done before the baby is born.  Mind blowing. Have a good weekend!

Seal The Deal With Baked Doughnuts

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Here’s the thing…I’m not an especially extroverted type of person. Shocking, I know…a blogger with social anxiety. It’s not like I’m an agoraphobic shut-in who spends her days slinking through the shadows, darting past the windows and shrieking at the sight of garlic – no wait, that’s a vampire. Anyway, I’m just a teensy bit uncomfortable when meeting new people and tend to come across as cold or snobby. Of course, there have been those occasions when I’ve had too much to drink to compensate and that’s always a million times worse – so many cringe-worthy moments. I’m also not the kind of person that needs a lot of friends and in the past I’ve been able to make at least one good friend at work and be content. Now I’m in a situation where I have to purposely put myself out there or risk gaining 500 pounds and having to be removed from my house by crane a la Gilbert Grape, so I joined a Moms group this past summer. I went to a couple of meetings and it wasn’t exactly a love connection. See, I’m not really into discussing parenting techniques and breastmilk storage guidelines…I really just want to meet a cool chic to get drunk and watch tv with. Maybe I should try the bar scene. There is another meeting of the moms coming up soon and I’ve decided to be more open-minded and give it another shot. And I’m bringing homemade doughnuts…because if doughnuts can’t help seal the deal then what can?

I halved this recipe and it made approximately 6 regular and 12 mini doughnuts.
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, to taste
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate mini chips – optional

Topping
Melted butter
Cinnamon sugar
Powdered sugar

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Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease and flour your doughnut pan(s).
Beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth.
Add in eggs and combine.
Stir in baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and vanilla.
Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
For chocolate chip doughnuts, stir in the chocolate chips.
*I baked half the batter to make cinnamon sugar doughnuts then and then added half the portion of chocolate chips for the remainder
Spoon the batter into the lightly greased doughnut pans, filling the wells to about 1/4″ shy of the rim for cinnamon doughnuts; or to the rim for chocolate chip doughnuts.
The easiest way to do this is to transfer the batter to a pastry bag and use either a naked coupler or large round tip.
Bake the doughnuts for 10 minutes for regular doughnuts and 6-8 minutes for minis.
Remove them from the oven, and wait about 5 minutes before removing from pans.
For cinnamon sugar doughnuts: dip the doughnuts in melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.
For the chocolate chip doughnuts: dust with powdered sugar.

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Here’s hoping these delicious baked beauties will help win me a new bestie!

Batter adapted from King Arthur Flour.

Pattern? What Pattern?

I believe I may have mentioned previously that I have trouble with patterns and following directions (and eating too much chocolate and authority figures and exercise programs)..ahem.  I still have not mastered this little character flaw apparently.

Recently I traced off the pieces for a garment ( I have to be a little bit vague about this because it is a present for Bake’s baby) and I thought that I had done it correctly, sadly this was not so.

After spending a good portion of the day getting my serger settings just right and then discovering that I couldn’t use it for the total construction (due to lack of skill) and then after fighting with the knit fabric to put on the neck band pieces without stretching either of them too much I spent the better part of an hour pinning my pieces together and wondering why in the freaking hell the bottoms didn’t line up (there was a good six inches difference).

I was pissed off and depressed that I couldn’t even manage a 4 piece garment (!), questioning my worth as a sewer (sewist? seamstress?) and as a human being. In desperation, I (finally) decided to check the pattern to see if I had traced it right.

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A bit hard to match these up…

Ah Ha! I had traced the completely wrong piece! So I wasn’t an idiot who couldn’t put together a simple garment, I was an idiot who couldn’t even trace the garment right in the first place! Whew! So relieved. How about you, readers? Any absolute Duh moments you’d like to share?