Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sewing Sneak Peeks

I have been busy sewing but all my projects have to be kept secret until the time I can post about them!

I'm guest posting on a few blogs in September/October, pattern testing and I'm also sewing along during Project Run and Play! I love everything I'm working on and I can't wait to share it all with you!

Here are some peeks into my recent projects.

I guess I've been into patterns lately. Not a lot of solids in the mix. Think I will remedy that soon!

Hoping its not 95 degrees again tomorrow so my kids will nap...and I can sew!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Family Meals

I remember the weekly list of dinners, in my mom’s handwriting, placed on the side of the refrigerator. Chicken cacciatore, chili dogs, taco salad, macaroni and cheese, chicken tacos , turkey burgers, chicken kabobs, manicotti. We always knew what we were going to have for dinner and we ate dinner together, as a family. Every night at 6:00pm. We prayed and then spent the time together laughing, talking about our day, sometimes arguing or not saying much at all.

Growing up I didn’t really cook. Well, I helped my mom in the kitchen but I was grossed out by meat and didn’t enjoy making dinner. After getting married I realized that we needed to eat and that meant cooking, so I made the meals that I knew. Ingredients and recipes I was familiar with. Casseroles, tater tots (oh how I love tater tots!), chicken, turkey, pasta.
Then, I found cookbooks. Wonderful new foods to try, foods that were different, foods I had never heard of. And I started to love cooking. We never had a list of weekly dinners posted on the refrigerator. Dinner would be a surprise when Brian would come home from work.

After almost 15 years of marriage, I’m now doing meal planning. I was resistant. It felt too…stay-at-home-mom, boring, predictable. But I’ve found out that it’s helpful. It’s more cost effective and it makes me more organized and with a toddler that is important! Each week the menu is different. I guess in my mind that’s one way I can keep it from becoming too boring. Plus, I love experimenting with new recipes! So far, it's working out well. I don't have something planned for each day of the week because some days are for leftovers or for my lazy, comfort food cooking (grilled cheese, pasta, risotto).

Here is one of my weekly menus:

Miette is now old enough to know that we pray before eating our meals. And she makes sure to remind me if I forget! It’s so cute watching her fold her little hands and then enthusiastically say “Amen!” when the prayer is done. I love sharing meals with my family (and with friends) and I look forward to sharing many more with the ones I love.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Black and Green Stripes

ILife has been busy lately which means not much sewing has been happening. But I realized I never shared this cute green and black striped hoodie

I actually made this for someone else. I participated in a Peek-a-Boo pattern clothing swap. I was matched up with someone who had a child the same size as Miette and sewed for him. Then another person sewed something for Miette. It was so fun! The recipient of the hoodie was a boy but I think it looks just as cute on my girl!

The Pattern: Hangout Hoodie by Peek-a-Boo Patterns
The Fabric: Green and black striped jersey knit. Solid black double knit. Both found at SAS Fabrics.
The Size: 5

I have a lot of projects in the queue but can't share a lot of them until September!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blueberry, Banana, Bran Muffins

I used to be a morning person. Then, I became a mom and now I find it very difficult to drag myself out of bed in the morning. Well, unless a crying baby forces me out of bed and down the hall.

For the past 6 months I've been trying to wake up early, do my devotional, enjoy the quiet morning and get mentally prepared for the day ahead.

It's a little easier to wake up in the morning if I know there is a little treat waiting for me to enjoy with my coffee. I started making these when I had a newborn and I needed a filling, yet quick breakfast. These definitely hit the spot and now my little one enjoys them as well.

My triple "B" muffins. Blueberry, banana and bran muffins. With a crumb topping. Because everything tastes better with a crumb topping. I make a batch and freeze half of them so I can have one anytime. Try them. You will love them!

The Best Banana Bran Muffins

Makes 12-18 large muffins

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups mashed, ripe banana
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping:
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons butter, melted

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and grease, or line with baking cups, muffin tins.
2. Blend the wheat bran and buttermilk in a small bowlLet sit for 15 minutes.
3.  In a separate bowl, whisk the mashed banana, sugar, eggs, vanilla and oil (or butter). Add bran mixture.
4.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon to the batter. Stirring until just combined. Add blueberries and gently stir until combined.
5.  Fill muffin tins 2/3 full.

Crumb Topping:
1. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. Combine flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking powder with melted butter. Stir until crumbs form.
2.  Place a generous amount on top of muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Roast Chicken, Three Ways.

My first time roasting a chicken was in my high school home economics class. Back then, raw chicken really grossed me out. My mom even wrote a note for the teacher saying that I had her permission not to touch the chicken. Seriously. Then my friend put his hand in the carcass, made it dance around and tried to get me to touch it. It took me many years before I even considered roasting my own chicken. Now one of my most affordable and simple meals to make is roast chicken. I can get a few different meals out of one chicken. Roasted chicken, soup, chicken cakes and chicken stock. You don't have to roast your own chicken to make the soup, chicken cakes or even chicken stock. You can save time and buy a pre-roasted chicken, no problem! Herb-Roasted Chicken  
Compound Butter
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, fresh
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, fresh
1/2 teaspoon sage leaves, fresh
Soften butter or let it come to room temperature. Chop herbs and mix with butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Reserve 2 tablespoons for the gravy.
Roast Chicken

5.5 pound chicken
3 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs sage
1 lemon, cut in half
3 cloves of garlic
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse chicken inside and out. Dry with paper towels. Place in roasting pan with rack. Fill cavity with fresh herbs, lemon and garlic. Rub 6 tablespoons butter under the skin and all over the breast, thighs and back of chicken. Drizzle chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add a little water to the roasting pan. Roast for 1 1/2-2 hours, checking after 1 hour. When chicken reaches 160-165 on a thermometer, remove to a plate/cutting board, cover with foil and let sit for a few minutes.  
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons compound herb butter (reserved from above)
Drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat from roasting pan. Place roasting pan over medium-heat. Add shallots and cook until softened. Add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in flour until absorbed then whisk in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place chicken and roasted vegetables on a plate, top with gravy and drizzle with fresh herbs. Keep leftover chicken and shred to use in soup and cakes.

 Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Serves 4
Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
3 carrots, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded or chopped , cooked chicken
2 tablespoons minced chives
6 cups of chicken stock (either homemade or store bought)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
Chive biscuits
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stockpot or soup pot, over medium-low heat. Add diced onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. After about 5 minutes add the carrots and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add chicken stock and cook for 10 minutes. Stir chicken, peas and corn into the soup. Just before serving, add the cream and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chive biscuits (recipe link above). To bake biscuits: Preheat oven to 400. Place biscuits on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Make ahead biscuits: Cut biscuits. Freeze, uncooked. Defrost and bake as directed above. If you have leftover biscuits, either freeze them or make a breakfast sandwich!

Chicken, Chive and Corn Cakes
Adapted from Chicken and Egg by Janice Cole
Serves 4
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups finely shredded, cooked chicken
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup minced chives
1/8 cup diced cooked bacon (optional)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs or panko
Olive oil
Combine the yogurt, egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir in the chicken, corn, chives and bacon. Add the breadcrumbs or panko. Measure out 1/3 cup mounds of mixture and place on large plate. Flatten slightly. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet, over medium heat. Cook for 7-9 minutes, turning once and adding additional oil if needed. To make ahead: Form cakes. Place between layers of wax paper. Refrigerate for 1 day or freeze up to 1 month. If frozen, defrost in the refrigerator and cook as directed above.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Skipper Top (pattern testing)

Isn't this the cutest top? Its the new Skipper Top by Sew Much Ado.

I was so excited when Abby showed some sneak peeks of a new pattern she was working on. And was lucky enough to be a pattern tester for this top.
A knit top with so many options. Banded neck/arms/waist, heart or pentagonal pocket, top stitched options and lace embellishment! My first one was sewn with the banded neckline/arm/waist and the heart pocket.

Miette fell in love with the pocket and immediately tried putting her hand in it! I love the generous length as well as the finished look the banded options give.

And guess what? Abby has a top just like this for women! The Seafarer Top is just as adorable and I'm thinking of making some matching mommy-daughter tops soon!

I have lots of knit fabric ready to be made into some cute tops for M!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fox, forest and flowers

My best friend is an amazing photographer. She lives in Tennessee and when I found out she was coming into town (for 2 months!!!) we decided a photoshoot of our kiddos was in order. Our girls are just 3 weeks apart and the babies are 4 months apart. And they all love each other so much!

What started out as a simple dress for the older girls turned into coordinating outfits for everyone! We found a fabric we loved and went from there. Les Amis by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller is what we found. We ended up using the cute fox, forest scene and tiny flowers.

I had so much fun figuring out what to make for each person. I made a pleated playsuit for Miette, a geranium dress for C, shorts for Henri, a pinafore and bubble pocket shorts for T. I can't wait to see them all wearing these together!

Here is what I made.

Pattern: Pleated Playsuit by Elegance and Elephants
Size: 5T
Fabric: Les Amis by Michael Miller, Lil Meadow in Peach with brown linen accents
More details about this can be found here.

Pattern: The Inside or Out Pocket Pants by Fishsticks Designs
Size: 18 months
Fabric: Main is a brown linen and pockets are Les Amis by Michael Miller, Socks the Fox in Coral.
More detail can be found here.

Pattern: Geranium dress by Made by Rae
Size: 5T with added length
Fabric: Les Amis in peach by Michael Miller
See this post for more details.

Pattern: Bubble Pocket Shorts by Elegance and Elephants
Size: 18-2T
Fabric: Brown linen with accents in Les Amis by Michael Miller, Lil Meadow in Peach.

Pattern: Pinafore tutorial by Smashed Peas and Carrots
Size: 6-12 months 
Fabric: Outside: Les Amis by Michael Miller, Socks the Fox in Coral. 
Inside: Les Amis by Michael Miller, Lil Meadow in Peach.



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