Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Creature Power Suits

My son has totally been sucked into the Wild Kratts hype.  Everything in our house right now can be accomplished with 'creature powers'! Becomes extremely helpful when trying to get some chores done around the house. How many toys can the mighty lion get into the toy bin...let's find out. :)

I started searching a bit on-line to see if there were any patterns; ha ha, like I'm going to follow a pattern. Nothing really grabbed me and there was such a range from using fleece to sports cloth to felt.

I decided to go with felt. I used pictures of the Kratt Brothers show on-line to help with patch placement, and of course had to make one in each color; two kids means two creature vests.  Double the chores that will get done around here. ;)

I found some disks on-line as well, that were downloadable. I am going to print those out on some cardstock so they're a little sturdier, and I wanted to make a pouch on the vest to put the disks in. I used Some clear vinyl I had leftover from making my quilting mat and put a layer of felt behind that creating two pockets. The front clear pocket will be for the creature power currently in use and the back pouch will be for disk storage.

They are already pretty excited about them. All I have left is some sizing panels and velcro on the green one and we are ready for some serious creature power action! I bought halloween costumes last fall during the clearance sales, but I wonder if this might replace my son's Jedi least for this year.

I'm linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.  Let's see what everyone else is doing in the back-to-school craze.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Turkey Egg Rolls

Yes, I have said it many times; chinese food is totally my weakness.  My favorite. My go-to food when I'm happy, sad, angry, bummed, tired, energized, pretty much any excuse to eat chinese food is a good excuse for me. Of course restaurant-style isn't the healthiest, so figuring out how to make my fave's at home is a big win!

I've already perfected my Cashew Chicken, and my Honey Chicken. Now it's time to get some egg rolls on the table. These really can be a meal all their own; just serve with some veggie fried rice and a little sweet-and-sour sauce and you're good to go.

To help with the calorie factor, I used ground turkey instead of ground pork (although both are pretty healthy). You could also use shredded rotisserie chicken; super tasty! Once your prep is done, cooking is pretty easy and rolling is very much like making a burrito; no problem.

Something else some people are afraid of is the frying. If you drain on a wire rack after cooking, excess oil will drip off and these little guys really aren't so bad for you. I tried baking them and wasn't impressed with the results. When I fried them, I only used enough oil to submerse one side at a time (maybe 1-2 inches deep). That way I had more control over the cooking process and could pull them out easily.

If you really aren't interested in frying, or if you really want to be calorie-savvy, you can eat it right from the skillet, or you can wrap the filling in a lettuce leaf for lettuce wraps. The filling is amazing! I truly could make it a meal all by itself!

Great hands-on meal for kiddos too, and adding the dipping sauce really sells them on it! My daughter couldn't get enough of this one. I played around a bit with re-heating and found it's best to make a large batch and freeze them uncooked.  When you're ready, you can thaw them and drop them in a little oil to  achieve the best results.  Re-heating cooked ones in the microwave made for a very soggy result. No fun. Again, totally worth putting a little oil in a pan.  Only takes a few minutes and the results are amazing! You're gonna love these!

Turkey Egg Rolls
¼ c soy sauce
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1Tbs light-brown sugar
3-5 c vegatable oil
1 napa cabbage (~2 ½ lbs) shredded
2 c shredded carrots (about 4 med)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ginger (or 1 Tbs fresh minced ginger)
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
1 lb ground turkey
16 egg roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten

In a bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Set aside.

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a very large skillet.  Add cabbage, carrots, and garlic. Add ginger, salt and pepper. Cook down, stirring regularly, until vegetables are tender; about 7-10 minutes.

Turn up the heat to high. Push the veggies to the side and add the turkey and soy sauce mix on the other. Brown the meat, slowly mixing it with the veggies. Once the meat is no longer pink and the sauce is reduced, about 5 – 7 minutes, pour the mixture on a plate to cool.

Layout your egg roll wrappers on a flat surface, one at a time in a diamond position. Brush a little egg along the edges of the wrapper.  Place the meat filling in the center. Pull one corner up and over the filling. Then fold the sides over and finish by rolling towards the final corner. There are usually instructions on the wrapper package to help you.

Heat 3-4 cups of oil in a 5-qt pot for frying to a temperature of about 350° F.  Place 4 egg rolls in at a time, browning on each side for about 2 minutes.  Place them on a paper towel or cooling rack. Serve with sweet and sour sauce, hot mustard, or soy sauce.  I also like to serve these with vegetable fried rice and make a dinner out of it.

Side Notes:
These are bakeable. 400° F in the oven, place the rolls on a rimmed pan and brush each roll with oil before baking for about 10 minutes. Admittedly, I was not so impressed with the results.  It’s worth frying them, and it’s super quick and easy and actually still relatively healthy (all that turkey and veggies working their magic).

They are also freezable. After rolling, place them on a tray and place it in the freezer. Leave them for a few hours and then place them in a Ziploc bag until you're ready to cook them. Simply pull them out about 30 minutes before you want to cook. 

*Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living recipe, Pork Egg Rolls

Linking up with Hun...What's for Dinner. Come on by to get some other great meal ideas!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Motivated in the Kitchen

I love when I get a burst of energy to get things done, and then I'm actually able to get those things done! THE BEST! I was on a mission the last couple of days with recipes.

I bought the ingredients for egg rolls as well as things to make my own trail mix a couple days ago. I'm trying to put together those recipes and another bread recipe, but until then, I kept myself busy with produce I got the other day.

It's finally peach time here and they taste amazing! My kids DEVOUR peaches! I cannot keep them in the cabinet, they eat them so fast. I saw Sprouts was having a sale, and I went for it.  They also had Pink Lady apples on sale, which is a fave around here so I bought a bunch of those as well.

Aren't they beautiful?!?!? I love the colors they show off in their simple clear jars! Just amazing! Makes my mouth water just looking at them.  I could open a jar right now...but I won't. I better wait for the kids to wake up from rest time or I'll be in big trouble. ;)

I'm going to experiment a little with the canned apples. I want to try putting them in lunches with a little cinnamon-sugar (we can't have any nuts, including peanut butter, in lunches) and I want to try making applesauce, and peach-applesauce, and strawberry applesauce, and...well, you get the idea. We're going to have fun with apples around here!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cutest Little Things!

I have a had a bag of rice sitting on my sewing table for weeks with intentions of making some rice-filled bean bags for the kiddos. I figure they can double as boo-boo bags that can be warmed or cooled to help little ones boo-boo's feel better.

So, I was finally motivated when I started cleaning up my scraps and I found some scraps from a set of Me and My Sister quilts I made a few years ago. I was instantly inspired!

Look how CUTE those are! I was in love as soon as I stitched the last stitch! I used some ribbon from my scrapbooking stash to add some interest for a child or baby.

The backs of each bag are made from a fun lime-green minky fabric with texture bumps on it.  It's so soft and wonderful; so much fun for a baby.

I filled each with about 2/3 cup of long grain white rice (uncooked, of course), and then hand-stitched the the opening to finish them up.

They are now ready for some good tossing and flipping and all of the wonderful things kids love to do with bean bags.

I'm linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday with Kelly! Hope everyone is having a great week!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mini-Me Bag

I had scraps leftover from my French Country Bag and I decided to try making a Mini-Me Bag of that one. It's so cute! But getting it finished almost killed my machine.

It started simple enough.  I got the zipper assembled and sewn to the panels. I put a binding on the pocket and attached that.



Then I attached the handles with a cross-stitch "x" pattern. While doing this my machine got tangled; literally. I was using a Coats and Clark thread spool, which I don't care to use but the color was right. I don't like using them because there have notches on them that the thread gets caught on while sewing. I didn't realize that's what was happening and the thread kept pulling tighter and tighter. I stopped stitching and looked up to find the culprit. I fixed the thread and tried to re-thread the needle and it wouldn't move.  It was locked in a right-stitch position.  Errr!

I thought for sure I'd broken the machine.  I tried everything and couldn't get it corrected. My last ditch effort was to just try sewing and see what would happen.  Huge Sigh of Relief!!! It worked! I was back to work.

I finished attaching the handles and then used a zigzag stitch and a finishing stitch to complete the bag. I had to get it done so I could move on, so last night I got a dirty look from my husband as I sat at the sewing machine and he headed off to bed. I feel so much better! I was able to get it done! Phew!

Such a fun little purse! I still have some scraps, though, so I guess there's still a little more work to do to get all of them done. So much fun!

I'm linking up today with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finished Friday! Glad I was able to get a finish in this week. Looking forward to seeing others progress.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BlockBuster Block #5

This was a tough one! Not because the pattern was awkward or because I wasn't thrilled with the colors (I mean, they're pink! Who could be upset about that!) but because it was super challenging to make a flower out of this pattern with the fabrics I had to work with.

There was actually a couple of times I thought, maybe I should break the rules I set up for myself and get a different fabric into this one. Or, maybe it's time to break down and get one of the Oops packs with extra fabrics in the colors of the blocks. But NO! I must be strong! I must resist the easy route and find a way to make this work!

And I did it!

I try and try to draw pictures and plan it out but it just doesn't seem to work for me. I guess it's kind of like me trying to use a pattern; just doesn't go well. So, I figured out what I could get out of the fabric I had and I cut; I know, it's scary.  Totally worth it! It took me back to my teaching days when I would plan out my daily lesson on my way to school and it would end up being amazing! That's how I felt about the end result of this block.

I'm so excited about sharing this one at the LQS for the block of the month group. So glad I got to share it with you. I was starting to worry I wasn't going to get it done in time, I was procrastinating so much with it. But I made it! Yeah!

Linking with Freshly Pieced today for WIP Wednesday. Looking forward to seeing what everyone is working on!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Animal Alphabet Quilt

After completing my last alphabet quilt, Learning the ABC's, I decided I wanted to try another one with a slightly different method. My Mom had this panel in her stash and she let me have it so I could "play".

At first I thought about making a book, which I think was its original intent, but it wasn't squared up so I needed to separate the squares and thus was FORCED to make a baby quilt out of it; so hard! I figured it gave me a chance to practice some more trapunto.

Look how fluffy those blocks are! The texture on this quilt is amazing! It was so much fun to make this! I used 2-ply poly batting underneath all of the letters and sashing, whereas last time I sewed it onto the letters only. I think I liked it better on the letters only, but it sure made it fluffy! I feel like the jaguar is looking at the camera.

The alphabet border was a bear to track down. I looked and looked and couldn't find the right thing. I finally tracked something down at a LQS and I'm really happy with how it turned out.  Ironically, after I got it all finished I was searching my Mom's stash for something else and I found more fabrics from this line.  Oh well, now I have more to work with on another project. I used what was left of the alphabet fabric on the back along with the leftover gingham.

I decided to hand-bind this one.  It was small and quick, so it was fast to finish.  I added one of my tags rather than making a label, which is such an awesome alternative when you want to date a project without doing a whole label.

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finished Friday. So glad to have a finish to share, and I'm hoping there will be more coming soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Adding to my Etsy Site

I feel like a fledgling eagle trying to figure out how to fly in the soaring skies ahead of me.

I am still working to strengthen my Etsy site and figure out what best works on the site. I have so many ideas and it's hard not to flood my page with all of them at once. But the scientist in me says I should pace myself and go slow so that I can truly understand what's best for my shop.

That being said, I have been adding items here and there over the last couple of months but haven't really posted much about it. The summer has just been so much fun! I am finally playing a little catch-up and have listed all of the items on my page here on the blog titled, Crafts for Sale.

Here's a preview of the most recent items listed:

I'd love to have everyone stop by and check it out.  Spread the word and let friends know. What works best? Vintage items? Crafting supplies? Finished products? Something I haven't thought of yet? I am so excited to see this project of mine accomplish success.

Thanks so much for the support! The blogging world has been so wonderful!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sweet and Savory French Toast

All growing up I thought French Toast was bread dipped in egg and toasted on the griddle.  It was only after it was cooked that you added cinnamon-sugar, powdered sugar and syrup and all those wonderful things.  My husband and I actually had a debate about the best method for making French Toast a couple of years ago, and I really stuck to my guns; convinced my way was the best. Oh, I hate it when he's right.

He pulled out the America's Test Kitchen cookbook and looked up a recipe that changed our lives.  I will never look at French Toast the same way again. I'm talking mouth watering, unbelievable, can't-have-enough, so good French Toast.

The only thing I struggled with was the leftover bread. So, I have modified the recipe to make a complete loaf of texas toast.  But, what do you do with the leftovers, you ask? Even re-heated the next day, these bad boys taste great! I simply cooked all of the toast and then froze the leftovers and re-heated them when we were ready.  Worked great and gave me two fun breakfasts in one. Fantastic! It would also be a good way to prepare for a busy school morning.  Have a batch of these in the freezer to feed the kids before they leave; quick, easy, no-fuss breakfast as they head out the door.

Sweet and Savory French Toast

1 loaf texas toast or other thick-sliced bread
3 Tbs butter, melted
1 1/2 c milk
1 lg egg
3 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs sugar
1 t cinnamon, heaping
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c  flour

Melt the butter in a medium bowl and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, gather all other ingredients and prepare/heat up the griddle. Heat your oven to 200 degrees. Spread your bread on a wire rack on a jelly-roll pan so they all lay flat. Place in the over for about 5 minutes. Pull them out and flip each piece over and put it back in the over for another 5 minutes. You want to the bread to feel dry to the touch but not dry out the center of each slice.  It keeps the bread from getting soggy when placed in the batter.

Measure out the milk in a measuring cup and add the egg and the vanilla.  Whisk together.  When butter has cooled to warm, add a small amount of milk while whisking to infuse the milk and butter. Add a little more and keep whisking.  Keep doing this until all of the liquid is in with the butter. This will prevent the butter from re-solidifying when the cold milk hits it. Now add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk together until well blended.  Finally, add the flour slowly, whisking each addition to create a smooth batter.

Dip one slice at a time into the batter, covering both sides, and place it on the griddle.  Brown on each side for a few minutes (this depends on your griddle and your personal preference for how toasted you want it). Once done, remove it from the griddle and place on a warm plate while you toast the rest (I usually keep a plate in the microwave to put them on, nice little incubator). Continue in the same manner until all of the toast is toasted. Serve with eggs, fresh fruit, bacon, you name it!

**To freeze, I use the jelly roll pan to lay leftovers flat and place it in the freezer. Once they're frozen thru, I stack them and place them in a freezer bag. Pull out what you want and warm in the microwave for a minute or so. Yum!