Bake

Monthly Archives: June 2013

Pajama Pockets

Hello there!  I’ve been doing some sewing lately and I’m feeling pretty grumpy about the results.  I cut out and sewed up a dress that fits in the lower half but the bodice gaps at the back and sides.  I don’t know if it’s just my ineptitude or the fault of the pattern author.  Le sigh….  Instead of heading for my chocolate stash and drowning my sorrow in Dove milk chocolates I decided to sew something simple.  Pockets for my new stripey jammies.

These were purchased at Target and I love them.  They are pretty and soft and roomy and generally awesome.  The only downside is they have no pockets.  I don’t know about you but I really don’t function well without pockets. Why don’t they put pockets on women’s pajamas anyway?  Any thoughts?

 

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Well, seeing as how I fancy myself a seamstress I decided to sew some on.  I mean, these are so easy no one could screw them up, not even me!

I started with a scrap of this fabric.  I liked the circles on it and it was the right color

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I determined where I wanted the pockets to sit and marked it.  Took them off and drew the line straight across the bottom and then the top

I took a stab at what size seemed right then added some for seam allowance, came up with this

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Then I tested it on the pants.  It goes a bit below my line but that’s fine.

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After that it goes like this:

You can iron them if you want to but before you sew them down make sure to

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Here’s mine.  Yes, it’s a terrible picture, sorry.

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It was a bit too tight on my hand for comfort of use. So back to the cutting mat…

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The next set I made were sized like this. Two pieces (instead of 4) folded right sides together.

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Repeat the pertinent steps and remember to:

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Here is my second test fit.

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After that, do this

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Again ignore the rotundness of the model, she has an inexplicable fondness for chocolate everything..ahem.

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Pockets are useful

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I kinda match the door, don’t I?

Spinach, Mushroom, Goat Cheese Quiche

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So I’ve decided to stop resisting the idea of being a stay at home mom and housewife and instead just try to be really good at it…or better at least.  While I’ll never be the Stepford variety of housewife that greets her husband at the door in a ball gown, with a four course meal spread out on the table, I feel like I could be more of a positive contributor to the family good, starting with an occasional home cooked meal.   Cupcakes and cookies are great and all, but you should really only eat those for two meals a day.

My husband is the cook in the family and has been fine with the ‘bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan’ situation, but with his crazy work schedule recently I’m starting to feel kinda guilty about the arrangement.  And the fact that he doesn’t expect it or demand it, actually makes me want to do it for him.  If all goes according to plan, I’ll be sharing more savory recipes in the future.  And if plans fail miserably as plans tend to do, there will be more take out in my husband’s future.

Quiche is a good transition dish because it’s basically just a pie…a delicious eggy, cheesy pie.  If you have one of those really cool deep dish tart tins, you can make a beautifully crimped crust really easily.  If you are like me and do everything on a whim with no planning or preparation, then you will probably have to do your crimping by hand.  Such is life.

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Spinach, Mushroom, Goat Cheese Quiche

Crust
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into 8 pieces.
3 tbsp ice cold water

In a medium bowl whisk together flour and salt.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in water and form into a disc with hands.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350.
Roll out dough into a 12 inch circle and place it in a 9-inch pie plate, patting to fit. Trim the dough with a sharp knife or scissors leaving a 3/4 inch overhang and fold the edge under to form a double layer and crimp the edge around the pie plate.  Here is a really helpful video on forming a pretty pie crust.
Pierce the crust all over with a fork and place in freezer for 30 minutes.
Bake until crust is lightly golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.  If edges fall down, use a wooden spoon to press them back up.  Allow to cool.

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Filling
1 1/2 cups half and half
4 eggs
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (I used white)
4 ounces goat cheese (I used herb and garlic)
5 ounces chopped fresh spinach (about 6 cups)
2 cups chopped mushrooms: portobello, shiitake, crimini etc
3/4 cup chopped red onion
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
1/2+ tsp salt
1/2+ tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.
Sauté the onions, garlic and mushrooms in butter over medium heat until soft and golden about 8-10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Add in spinach and stir until wilts, 2-4 minutes.  Take off heat and set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs and half and half.  Stir in salt, pepper, fresh basil and shredded cheddar.  Stir in cooled spinach mixture.  Pour into pie crust.  Crumble goat cheese over top and sprinkle on more shredded cheddar.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Allow quiche to cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

I had some filling leftover so I decided to make a small quiche and a few babies.  Quiche crazy!

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My husband was pretty shocked to come home to dinner on the table, although I think he could get used to it pretty quickly.  On second thought, it might be better to keep him guessing.

Yep, it’s one of those days.

Hello out there. So I’m flying solo here at Chez Craft while hubby is attending his annual military training.  Naturally that means all manner of things that never go wrong/need fixing/happen only every thousand years or so will immediately commence.  Let us examine this little gem from earlier today.

I was happily cooking dinner for my darling baby zombies, spaghetti with ground turkey (brains!). While heating up the skillet to fry the brains..er I mean, turkey in, I realized the skillet had been set too high and would immediately destroy the delicate flavor of the brains.  No, no this simply won’t do.  Only the best for my 3 zombies, you see (and I have zero interest in scrubbing burnt on brains..ewww…).

So needing a place to set the scalding hot skillet, I spied the microfiber dish mat that has been handy in the past for sitting hot pots on when there is no other space available.  Huzzah! I thought, this will certainly suffice to hold the skillet while I finish preparing dinner.

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Thinking no more of it, I set the skillet upon it and scuttled about finishing the necessary tasks.  After I had drained the pasta and was in the midst of calling the zombies to the kitchen I reached over and picked up the skillet…..

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The thoughts that first crossed my mind were as follows:

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I do not know if a good sound scrubbing shall set this skillet aright but I am certain I shall be finding out presently…..   Adieu for now, dear readers.

Espresso Creme Brûlée

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Here’s a word of advice: do not ask your husband what he wants for Father’s Day.  What you mean is ‘what special treat can I bake you?’…what he hears is ‘what kind of sexual favor can I perform for you and can I simultaneously fix you a cocktail?’  Or at least that’s what happens in my house…and while some may pass on the cocktail I’m pretty sure the former is universal.  Sorry if that was icky to read for any family members.  Anyway, since the little one is too young to take his old man out golfing, the Father’s Day festivities fall to me.

This year I decided to try my hand at Creme Brûlée, a dessert that is near and dear to the hubby’s heart.  At least I think it is…I really like it anyway and he likes me so yeah.

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Creme Brûlée is similar to the stirred vanilla custard I made a while back, although its baked and it has a delicious burnt sugar crusty topping, thus the brûlée.  This topping is what makes the dessert and you can tell as soon as you tap it with your spoon if its going to have that deliciously satisfying crack that is critical to the Creme Brûlée.  The topping (everyone calls it a crust but its on the top and I think that’s weird) is where I failed miserably on the first 12 attempts. Everyone talks about how easy Creme Brûlée is and in a sense that’s true.  The actual custard is really easy to make, almost too easy.  It sets you up for the one two punch of the brûlée topping.  First of all, I scoured the house looking for a blow torch, checked all my handbags, my son’s toy box and came up empty handed so I had to attempt the broiler method.  My first challenge – locate the broiler on my oven.  I’ve never used it.  On my oven its on the top and looks like this:image

Espresso Creme Brûlée
4 eggs
1 cup half and half or heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 to 1 tbsp Kahlua liqueur
2 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 325.
In a small saucepan combine cream, espresso powder, Kahlua and vanilla and heat over medium/low until just hot.

In a separate bowl whisk together eggs and sugar until pale yellow.  While stirring, slowly add in 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture.

Add the tempered egg mixture back to the saucepan of warm cream and stir.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a container with a spout.  I use a large glass measuring cup.

Pour the mixture into two six ounce ramekins, filling nearly to the top.  Place ramekins into a glass baking dish.  Fill the dish with boiling water, just until half way up the side of the ramekin dishes.  Bake for 30 minutes or until edges are set and center is wobbly.  It shouldn’t look liquidy, but jiggly.  Hope that makes sense.

Allow to cool on counter then cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.

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Brûlée tips learned the hard way (the broiler method)
1. Pat the custard dry of any condensation before sprinkling with sugar.
2. Use a generous helping of sugar on the top – 1 1/2 teaspoons worked for me. Shake it around and tap off the excess.
3. Place custard into a container of ice and water, you want the custard to remain as cold as possible while the top browns.  If using shallow ramekins be careful that water doesn’t spill onto the custard.  This happened to me a few times. It’s not a total loss, just pat off the water and sprinkle on some more sugar.  It should still work.
3. Make sure the broiler/oven is cold before putting custard in.
4. Place the custard as close to the heating element as you can.  I moved my top rack up and then placed the dish on a baking pan turned upside down.  My setup looked like this:

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5. Move the pan around so it browns evenly and keep a close eye.  It really only takes about 5-7 minutes depending on how close it is to the heat source.
6. Allow custard to set for five minutes before serving.  The topping will eventually get soggy so serve with 1-2 hours of baking.

I topped these with homemade chocolate covered coffee beans.

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And through the process of attempting to achieve the perfect Creme Brûlée, my husband sampled so much that he’s quite over it and has since requested chocolate chip cookies for Father’s Day.  Classic.

Super Heroes

Summer vacation is challenging.  I feel like I should have a million fun activities lined up to keep the little ones entertained and I should be able to craft with them at the drop of a hat and bake cookies and keep up with laundry and…yeah….sooooo not happening.  So instead I sewed them a couple of new Super Hero capes.

Last year I made a really simple set that was just scrap liner fabric serged on the edges with  strings for tying.  They were a little worn out and not very cool.

I saw this pattern and decided I could make them something they would be proud to wear.  Once I started looking at it I realized it had 6 pleats in it. 6!  Screw that!

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   I happened to have a little shoulder cape from a Darth Vader Halloween costume floating around.  It was really simple, 3 pieces and not a pleat in sight.  That would do, I deconstructed it and traced the pieces.

The main side is just a black polyester something that was on sale at Jo-Anns and the liners were yellow for the boy and a pink liquid lame for the girl.

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I did a little altering to the pattern for the boy.  I just added 2 inches to the bottoms of all the pieces, main side and liner side, so I could cut the neck curve a little deeper and get the size I needed out of it.  Easy peasy (except for how none of the pieces matched and I ended up with a big gap between the necks.  Little bit of trimming seemed to fix it…mostly)

I used tape to keep my pieces straight

I used tape to keep my pieces straight

Sewed up the liner pieces.  Took my applique (round 2, melted part of the first one) and sewed it to the right side of the back piece, sewed the main body together, matched the two halves right sides together, left a hole for turning, went to work on the girls cape.

Same process.  Sewed the liner pieces, sewed applique on (it’s a Dalek if anyone is wondering. Yay, next generation Whovian!), matched right sides, left a hole for turning and started to become dissatisfied with the project….

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Had to add a contrast background so it would show up on the black.

Crap.  It feels like something is missing….what could it be…..Oh, I know…

Let’s make it double sided (can you tell I’m a Gemini?) !  I got some input on characters from the children and made a couple of new appliques.  It took some unpicking of seams and some more sewing but I finally got the new appliques attached and the ties sewn to where they were useable for both the good and the evil sides.

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Add in a Super Hero mask craft kit from Target and now they can fight crime together or fight each other!

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Good sides:

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Evil sides:

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Some more pictures just because:

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Ah! Slipping..

Ah! Slipping..

Must hold on...

Must hold on…

Can't make it....aaaaaah

Can’t make it….aaaaaah

Phew. Good thing it's just a slide

Phew. Good thing it’s just a slide

The playground is safe again.

The playground is safe again.

 

 

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Now that we’ve moved into our new house, everything is neatly put away, perfectly organized and spotless, and my son is quietly playing with toys in his playard, I thought that I’d take the time to bake some muffins for all of our new neighbors. False. The house is in total shambles, the projects are too many to list, the child is a teething, cranky monster and I would be horrified if any of the new neighbors came to visit right now. I do actually intend to send my husband to the neighbors with some of these, if only as a way to prevent any unexpected drop bys. I’d like to add a little note that says “Now that I’ve made you muffins, there’s no need to drop by unannounced!” But I guess that’s not very neighborly. Mr. Rogers would be appalled. And I wonder why I have no friends.

These banana chocolate chip muffins serve three purposes:
A) stress relief from the countless projects, boxes, diapers, bills, etc
B) a way to ingratiate myself with the neighbors and in turn hopefully meet a drinking buddy, baby sitter, etc
C) and like so many before me, use three overly ripe nearly inedible bananas that are moments away from drawing fruit flies on my counter.

An added bonus is that they are a wee bit boozy, my favorite kind of baked good. As always, the booze is totally optional. I guess.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 standard muffins
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey or bourbon
3 really ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and line standard muffin pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

In a medium bowl mash together bananas and whiskey. Beat in egg, sugars, vanilla and oil. Add to flour mixture, blending just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips
Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan, filling almost completely full. You want these bad boys to spill over the top.

Crumb Topping
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cold butter

Mix together flour, cinnamon and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is well combined and crumbly.

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Spread crumb topping over muffins. I also added a few extra chocolate chips on top so people know what they are getting. There’s nothing worse than biting into a muffin or cookie expecting chocolate chips and getting raisins in return. Nothing against raisins but come on.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I boxed them up and added these cute free printables found here and here.

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Enjoy, neighbors!!