Monday, January 31, 2011

stitch and brunch

So, last night I decided to stay up and prepare my blocks for our brunch today. I strip pieced to save time, using a group of 4 jelly roll strips and then a group of 6. This made 8 blocks in total, so I still have 4 to do. Since it was the middle of the night when I got the borders on my blocks, I had to use the tv (turned on) as a light box to trace the snowman picture! It worked well.
One of the perks of this group of friends is the amazing homemade food! Just look at the spread from this morning. Chips for breakfast? Why not! So, here's what we enjoyed today: bacon and cheddar muffins, cream cheese/salsa roll-ups, tostitos with salsa and pueblo dip, dilly dip and veggies (my contribution = boring this time), pumpkin loaf, cherry cheesecake, salted caramel brownies and apple pizza pie! Plus, Kim greeted us with the biggest mochas (or chai lattes) I have ever seen. Yum.

Giant steaming cup of mocha and my block ready to stitch! 

Please note, if you're going to strip piece, like I did, it's important to edge stitch 1/8" around the entire block.Otherwise, your seams may come apart since you're going to be handling the block quite a bit to do the embroidery. There are 5 of us getting together to do these quilts and we're each doing it a little bit differently. So, definitely do what works for you!

If you'd like to join in this Block of the Month, it's not too late. You can get all the details at Little Birdie Stitches and see everyone's progress on the Flickr group. I can't wait to see what the February block is like! I'm hoping there will be hearts involved. Love birds maybe?


Sunday, January 30, 2011

{ birdie stitches bom }

Happy Sunday!

We've had a nice relaxing, sunny Sunday afternoon. I'm really excited to be joining in on Little Miss Shabby's Birdie Stitches Block of the Month. Tomorrow a group of us are getting together at Kim's Brown Bag Studio to stitch our first blocks over brunch. As you can see, I've gathered my supplies. That's about as far as I've gotten, but that's ok, since the whole point is to get together to do the stitching! I'll be using a Nest jelly roll for the little border squares, white fabric (of course!) for the embroidered blocks and coordinating variegated Week's Dye Works embroidery floss. Also in my kit are my favorite little scissors, a package of English needles and a small hoop. I like this type of hoop because it's really easy to put on and off, move around, easy to tighten your fabric, if necessary. And, the nice small size makes it easy to hang onto the edge of the hoop and stitch at the same time.

I've decided to do my stitching through just one layer of fabric. I've been reading on flickr groups and blogs about the pros and cons of stitching through an additional layer of muslin, or fusible interfacing or through the front, batting and backing, but honestly, this is the way I've always done it (one layer) and it works fine for me! So, why mess with is? :) When I made the Winter Wonderland quilt I did not back my fabric with anything and it turned out just fine!

I'll keep you posted with our progress. It'll be a fun year of stitching.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

{ bird festival }


Wow, we've got a bit of sunshine today! 'Better enjoy it while it lasts. :) On the weekend, Madelyn had some of her crafty friends over for a little-bird-making-festival. Here are a couple of the little cuties I made at craft night! I now have a dozen or so made and ready to send off to new homes! I am working on opening up my etsy shop again, but in the meantime, if you'd like to adopt-a-bird, just drop me an email and we can talk!

Enjoy your day today, whether it's sunny or not!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baking :: Decadent Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel


I first posted this recipe a couple years ago, but I thought I would post it again in case you missed it! It's way too good to keep to myself. This cake only has 5 simple ingredients, and is so incredibly light and chocolaty, not overly moist like the chocolate cake I made last week. Today I topped this cake with salted caramel. I used Ree's (Pioneer Woman! I am a huge fan) recipe from her salted caramel chocolate brownies. I'm taking this treat to a bird-making-festival (ie. craft night) tonight. 'Should be fun!

In a small saucepan, melt 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat. Vintage orange Le Creuset was a thrift store find from the summer. I love this little pot!

Grease a springform pan. Add 1/2 cup all purpose or cake flour 4 egg yolks to chocolate and butter mixture.

 Beat 4 egg whites until soft peaks form.

While still beating, add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tbsp at a time.
Bake at 325° for 30 - 35 minutes until the top is dry and crackled and a tooth pick comes out clean.

 See all that crackly goodness?! Once cake has cooled for ten minutes, you can carefully remove the sides of your pan. This time I opted to leave the bottom of the pan in place, cuz I felt like it. :) Cool cake completely before even thinking about frosting it.

 Make Ree's awesome-to-die-for-caramel. Drizzle a little caramel on your cake stand. This will act as glue to hold your cake in place... especially important if you'll be transporting the cake!

 Take a picture of your daughter taking a picture of your cake! I love her reflection in the caramel.

Decadent Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all purpose or cake flour
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar

Heat oven to 325°. Grease spring form pan or regular round pan. Heat 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup butter in pot over medium heat until chocolate chips are melted. Cool 5 minutes. Stir in flour until smooth. Stir in egg yolks until well blended.

Beat egg whites in large bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until soft peaks form. Fold chocolate mixture into egg whites. Spread in pan.

Bake spring form 35 to 40 minutes, round 30 to 35 minutes until top appears dry and cracked. Cool 10 minutes. Run knife along side of cake to loosen; remove side of spring form pan. Invert cake onto wire rack; remove bottom of spring form pan and cool cake completely. Place on serving plate.

This recipe came from Betty Crocker's 40th Edition Cookbook.

Salted Caramel

1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Butter
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm heavy cream. Do not boil.
In a separate saucepan, combine sugar and water. Do not stir. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture turns an amber color---not too dark, but definitely amber. Remove pan from stove.

Add warm cream, butter, and salt. Stir gently until mixture is smooth and well combined.

The salted caramel recipe was adapted from the Pioneer Woman one. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

{ handy helpers for quilters & sewists }


Here are some of the online tutorials and other handy websites that have helped me in my quilting and sewing. Some of these sites I refer to again and again to help figure out how much fabric I need for a certain project, or to remind myself how to make a quarter square triangle unit, etc!

So, here's my go-to list:

Monday, January 17, 2011

{ spaghetti prima vera }

This is not your ordinary spaghetti, but it is delicious and can be made in under 30 minutes with less than $10 in ingredients.

1. Cook your pasta.

2. Meanwhile in a medium dutch oven heat up a tbsp of olive oil then add: 1 diced onion, 2 diced bell peppers (1 red, 1 orange), 2 stalks of celery, diced, 1 minced clove of garlic. Stir until the veggies are softened and just starting to brown then add 1 cup diced pre-cooked ham, 1 tsp dried oregano, sprinkle of lawry salt and freshly ground pepper (those last two seem to go in everything I make - other than chocolate cake!).

3. Now make a roux by adding 1/4 flour to the veggies. Stir well with a wooden spoon.

4. Now make bechemel by adding 1% milk gradually to the veggies/flour mixture. Stir well with a whisk. Keep adding milk until it's nice and saucy. Stir until thickened. Add 1/2 cup grated cheddar (or Parmesan would be good, but we didn't have any!). Stir until cheese is melted.

5. Before you drain your pasta, scoop out 1/2 cup of that nice starchy water and save it in case you need to thin your sauce a bit.

Tribest Smoothies & Other Scrumptious Delights Recipe Book

Taylor & Ng Dim Sum Cookbook By Rhoda Yee

Fagor Pressure Cooking for Every Occasion Cookbook

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Loaded Quiche and Black Magic Cake

Happy Sunday!

This morning after church the girls went swimming and I stayed home and came up with this yummy lunch. I made individual quiches in ramekins.
Here's my recipe:

-Line 6 ramekins with pastry. I use the recipe on the box of Tenderflake. Any pie pastry will do!

Beat together:
-8 eggs
-1/2 cup sour cream
-a good dash of tobasco sauce

-3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 3 sliced green onions
-1 tsp basil

Cook a package of sausages completely, then lay them on paper towel to absorb the grease, then slice into thin rounds. Use the same pan to cook a diced red pepper, a diced celery stalk and two cloves of garlic, minced. Season veggies with lawry salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.


And, for dessert, how about chocolate cake?!

I saw this recipe on a friend's blog yesterday, then came across it on All Recipes while browsing for an icing recipe. There are a few things that surprised me about this cake. 1. The batter was extremely runny... like water. 2. The cake has zero coffee flavor even though there's an entire cup of coffee in it! 3. It's incredibly delicious and extremely moist anyway, but maybe not more than my other favorite chocolate cake recipes! The flavor of this cake definitely intensifies the next day. So, try it and let me know what you think!

It turns out this recipe originated in 1979 when it appeared on a can of cocoa. It's neat finding out the history behind a recipe.

Black Magic Cake
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or use 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice - let sit 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans or one 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
  4. Bake at 350° F (175° C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Fill and frost as desired.
Creamy Chocolate Frosting
  • 2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar. 

Have a good week!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

{ brocolli soup }

Easy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Here's another simple soup I make on a regular basis.

Cook some chopped up fresh broccoli (stems and all!) in 4 cups of turkey or chicken stock (homemade from your freezer!). Once the broccoli is fully cooked, puree it with an immersion blender. Then season with salt and pepper. Add a couple cups of milk, 2 tsp chicken bouillon powder and some grated cheddar cheese. Heat through and serve!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

{ winter tomato soup }

Today we've had the heaviest snowfall in 14 years in Chilliwack! It is beautiful to look at (from the cozy comfort of the indoors), but I am not one to purposely get cold and wet, so while the kids were out building a rare igloo, I was slaving over a steaming pot of delicious soup.

Winter Tomato Soup

1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced

2 large cans whole tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil
.5 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
.5 tsp garlic powder
.5 tsp celery salt
sprinkle of lawry salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp Chicken bouillon powder
2 cups homemade turkey stock from the freezer
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sugar

Heat up the oil in a big pot. Add carrots and onions. Saute until slightly softened then add everything else. Bring to a boil then simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves!! Puree with an immersion blender and cook for another 5 minutes or so.

It's a very simple soup, but delicious and toasty on a freezing day!