Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Focaccia

 What?! You didn't know you needed a Thanksgiving Focaccia bread recipe?! Well you do. I am a bread person and I've been searching for a great (but still easy) focaccia bread like you get in a real Italian restaurant recipe and I'm thrilled to say I've finally found it! I've made this three times so far and I love it a little more each time. Made with shaved Parmesan cheese and it was fantastic with pasta, or sliced and dipped in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and pepper. Last night I made it with blue cheese and then we sliced it and made sandwiches on it - oooohh so good. And then I realized I needed to share it - for the leftovers! This will take your turkey sandwich to the next level - promise!!
I found this on the King Arthur website as "Blitz Bread", adapted ever so slightly :-)

Focaccia Bread:

1) Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom.
2) Combine all of the ingredients, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds. Then add cheese and mix until blended in. (You could also make without cheese. I guess.)
3) Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover the pan, and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, till it's become puffy. Our microwave is big enough to hold a 9x13 pan so I just put the whole pan in there to rise with the door closed - works great.
4) While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
5) Gently poke the dough all over with your fingers.
6) Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with pizza seasoning, and/or the dried herbs of your choice, if desired - I just used cracked pepper.
7) Bake the bread till it's golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
8) Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Mix

You might know them as Muddy Buddies or Puppy Chow, I only knew them because I bought them at Target for the past few holidays. That's right, bought them. And I don't think I've ever said this before but Target let me down this year...that's right, not selling it anymore. I was incredulous when my friend texted me that she couldn't find them. Now after looking at more than one Target I'm sad to say it's true. So I had to figure out how to make them.

I also have a toddler heading into her THIRD week of colds (that's right colds, I think she caught one, was on the up-swing and caught another one) and since I was trapped at home having a small-ish pity party over all the things I couldn't get out to do I decided to comfort myself with chocolate. It didn't make the whining stop but I for one felt much better.
I did some online research and looked at the reviews people wrote and settled on basically doubling the coating for the original amount of Chex cereal in the recipe and they turned out GREAT. Like I need to give it all away before I eat it all great. Well ok, give away most of it ;-) If you're not at a peanut free school these would make yummy teacher gifts. It's easy but a little messy and you'll want some of the giant ( 2 gallon? 2 1/2 gallon?) ziploc bags.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Mix
9 C corn/rice chex cereal (store brand works fine - I used 4 1/2 C of each)

2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C peanut butter
1/2 C butter
2 tsp vanilla

3 C powdered sugar

Measure cereal into one large bowl and set aside.

Melt chocolate chips, butter and peanut butter in a large microwaveable bowl. Heat in 1 minute increments, stirring after each minute (mine only took 2 minutes). Then add vanilla and stir to mix.
Pour over cereal and toss to coat.

Put 1 1/2 C powdered sugar into your large ziploc and add half the chocolate coated cereal, toss/shake to coat (make sure your bag is zipped but has some air at the top for the mixture to move around). Spread on a cookie sheet to cool. Add remaining 1 1/2 C powdered sugar to your bag and remaining cereal mixture and toss to coat.

I filled 4 quart sized mason jars from this size batch (after what I ate ;-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Our Mini Donut Craze

 So I bought this cookbook for my husband for Christmas - you can see how well THAT worked out.
I also bought mini donut pans at Target (the closest pan) but then came across another size mini donut pan at JoAnn's - how can both these pans be mini? One seems micro mini! Since my husband was with me when I bought the micro mini ones we then had to come home and make mini donuts immediately. I mean who could resist? Not us anyway. So I broke out the book early. And man am I glad I did!
We started out with a basic vanilla donut with a vanilla glaze. Harper (of course) gave them the sprinkle treatment. Lets not talk about the dropped open container of non-pareils that I'm pretty sure we'll still be finding years from now. No, lets focus on the yumminess.
 So yummy in fact that we've already made a second batch - the Chai Tea variety, which basically just tastes like a delicious spice donut.
The hubs added some orange zest on his, leading to our plan to make the glaze with orange juice and zest instead of powdered sugar next time. I'm pretty sure there will be a chocolate batch before the week is out. Or maybe almond. Or maybe both, after all, it's only Tuesday ;-)

Vanilla Sprinkle Mini Donuts
adapted from Mini Donuts by Jessica Segarra
1 1/3 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 egg
3/4 C whole milk
3 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tsp vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in a another one. Whisk the wet ingredients until combined then add flour mixture, stirring to combine. We found the easiest way to get the batter into the pans was to pour it into a ziploc bag, snip one corner of the bag off and fill donuts each 3/4 full of batter.

MAKE SURE YOU GREASE THE PANS! Do not let the non-stick claim fool you, spray them. Seriously.

So our larger mini pan made 1 dozen with this recipe and the micro mini pan made 2 dozen, with an additional 4 of the slightly larger size. Also the larger pans are  Nordicware from Target (12.99) and the smaller ones are Wilton from JoAnn's (10.99).

Bake in a preheated oven:
micro mini:  8-10 minutes at 350 degrees
mini: 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees

Vanilla Glaze
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2-3 Tbsp milk (add one at a time until you get the consistency you want)

Cream together then dip donut tops in the glaze, set right side up on plate or rack and sprinkle them on up. We had a couple left and we put them in Tupperware on the counter - bottoms got a little  moist but flavor was still good day 2. Good enough that none made it to day 3!

Monday, November 12, 2012

November Cupboard and Mini Quilt

It's that time again - my monthly mini quilt update! I'm not going to lie, I am in awe of this quilt. You know how you get a picture in your head of how you want something to look sometimes with no idea if you can figure out how to translate it into reality? That was this project. A mini Modern Maples! Quilting math is generally not my friend but I managed to figure this one out and it's love. Big, huge, teeny, tiny love!

A shot of the whole cupboard - not too different than October in feeling but that's okay with me.

The mini with one of my brown milk glass turkey, a beloved purchase from Martha back in her heyday. Still one of my favorite Thanksgiving decorations. So thankful it's survived all the moves it's been though!

I had the idea for this mini last Sunday when we were at our local farmer's market and zoo, which are connected by a beautiful old park that's full of ancient, towering trees. My child spent the day jumping up and down trying to catch all the leaves as they swirled and whirled in the wind. It was utterly charming. And these colors, the gray of the fall-turning-to-winter sky and the bright pops of the leaves perfectly represent the colors of fall in the South (to me anyway).

 Found this free printable through Pinterest last year and look, there I am ;-)

 Awesome shot my husband took of Harper in the Asheville, NC fall leave glory that was going on when we were there a few weeks ago.

 Can you tell that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday?

 Last month's mini, re-purposed. I just loved it too much to put it away yet and the colors still work.

Details on my mini Modern Maples: So this is the book that the pattern is in, Pretty in Patchwork Holidays. Amanda Woodward-Jennings wrote this gorgeous Modern Maples pattern and I followed it for the maple leaves with these measurement adaptations:
- HST started with 2" squares that were trimmed to 1 1/2"
- plain squares were 1 1/2"
- leaf stem was 3" x 3/4" with 2" square

The little mini block finished at 3 1/2" - adorable. Plus they sew up super quick and use no fabric! I wanted three leaves (to represent our little family) but I could have sewn these all day and made a much bigger mini quilt that mimicked that layout of the "real" one in the book. If you give them a try I'd love to see! Happy November everyone :-)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

BEST Brownie Frosting Recipe

Even if you don't like frosting on your brownies! (That idea baffles me but I know you guys are out there - my husband is one of you). This brownie frosting recipe might just change your mind and if not at least you'll have had some yum trying it :-)

Chocolate Brownie Frosting
1/2 C (1 stick) butter

melt in a a saucepan over low heat, then add:
1/3 C milk
4 Tbsp cocoa powder

stir until mixture thickens, then add:
3 1/2 C powdered sugar (sifted if you feel like it, I rarely do)

stir to combine then pour over your cooled brownies (leave them in the pan until you frost them). This makes enough to generously cover a 9x13" pan. I call this brownie frosting but it's equally delicious on cakes and spoons as well ;-)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hurricane Blocks: Sent!

 I finished my blocks for Jennifer over at Knotted Thread - she's collecting blocks to make into quilts for friends and family affected by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. You still have time to send some if you'd like to help!
The tutorial for these HST blocks can be found over at So Sarah Sews - it's an easy block to whip up and I was really pleased with how they turned out, I can see using these again in this arrangement or as zigzags for a project of my own.

Happy to be checking something off the list today :-)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Quilts to Help!

Jennifer was another Sewing Summit attendee (along with her Mom - they were one of several adorable mother/daughter duos) and her hometown was one devastated by Hurricane Sandy. She's lucky enough to live in Hawaii now but her heart is clearly in New Jersey. She wanted to do something to help and so she's collecting blocks to make into quilts that she can deliver in December.

Isn't that what most of us makers want to do to help in times of trouble, make something?

Well you can help too! You can find the information on her blog. Even a few blocks will help create something of comfort and beauty for those who need it most right now. Get sewing people!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sewing Summit, Part 2

 Again, sorry I was too busy to take pictures, maybe next year! But I did want to finish my Sewing Summit wrap-up so I'm going to just plow ahead anyway :-) So the places and the things were great but they didn't hold a candle to the people at Sewing Summit. From the staff who I saw working tirelessly to the speakers and teachers to the other attendees, the people were what made SS so great. I'm normally a stand back and take it all in kind of girl but I found myself talking to people I'd only met online and jumping at the chance to make conversation with people whose work I admire and almost everyone was as warm and cordial and friendly as could be. It's a bit strange to "meet" people in real life that you've only known in the cyber world - there's that awkward moment of saying hello to someone you feel like you know even though you've never met. But there is also something so great about finally being able to have a real conversation and finding that people are as lovely as you hope they will be. The feeling of community that was created through-out the weekend was amazing and will hopefully last and grow.

So the photo above was taken from Amanda Herring's Creative Journey class, which was so motivating.  I no no idea what to expect from the "Creative Journey" classes but I came away enjoying them so much. Hearing about the journeys that others have had is so interesting and I loved feeling like I actually came away knowing those people in a real, personal sense. The other Creative Journey class that was very intimate and fun was led by Lindsay Conner of Craft Buds and Lindsay Sews. Her journey has been one of twists and turns and perseverance.

From these classes (and several others) I came away with the sense that even though we each have a unique path to walk we're all going through many of the same struggles - how to be creative, find balance and enjoy our community in real ways. I think I have more questions than answers but I feel like the questions I'm asking myself are deeper and more meaningful - what do I really want from this blog? what is my time worth and how do I want to spend it? where do I find inspiration, motivation, friendship? how can I find the right path for me? Like I said, I have more questions than answers right now but I'm trying to enjoy the questions and the process of working out the answers.
I was incredibly lucky to meet Ali in Atlanta and she pushed me off the fence about going to Sewing Summit - can't thank her enough for that! Plus as a staff member of SS she seemed to know (and kindly introduce me to) SO many fun and talented people: Terri from Sew Fantastic, Kelly from Kelby Sews, Elena from Hot Pink Stitches, Anna from Noodlehead, Jeni from In Color Order, Megan from Canoe Ridge Creations, Erika from Pink Suede Shoe , Amanda from A Crafty Fox, Amy from Sukie, Don't you know who I am? Elizabeth from Don't Call Me Betsy, Jill from Tabslot - you get the idea right? I also got to meet Debbie from A Quilter's Table and her daughter Rachel from Snippets of SweetnessDi from Random Thoughts: Do or Di, Katy from I'm a Ginger Monkey and Vanessa from LBG Studio. There were so many talented and wonderful people there I can't possibly list them all! Even as I'm typing i'm thinking of more and more wonderful people I met. As great as our sewing community is online, it is a million times more fun in person. Plus, to get to spend a weekend around people who all have the same interesting as you? Awesome.

It was a weekend full of inspiration and fun - because of the people. One of my favorite things was all the conversations that made me feel sane (yes, we all think about writing a fabric "will" instructing our significant other how to handle our rare, HTF and OOP fabrics - teehee) and in good company (it turns out most moms all struggle with when to fit their creative time in without plopping their kids in front of the tv). The abundance of real conversations and honesty were some of my favorite parts of the weekend. I'm thinking about how to keep those conversations happening - I have a few ideas ;-) I'm not sure I've even processed all my thoughts from the weekend but it feels good to share a few of them here. I'll probably share more as I figure it out!

So I came home feeling very full - of inspiration, of friendship, of new knowledge, of questions - and I think we all need to fill the well from time to time. Will I go again next year? I hope so. But no matter what, this year was a great year to be at Sewing Summit.

Have a lovely first weekend in November friends! See you back here next week :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Easy Blondies

The thing I love about these is that they're easy. Plus I usually have everything we need to whip up a batch without a trip to the store, which makes them golden in my book! Also my 3 year old gets ample measure and stir opportunities here. Want the recipe? Yeah, you do. Easy Blondies recipe:

1/2 C butter (1 stick)
1 C brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg, large
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt)
1 C mix-ins (chopped nuts, chocolate chips, etc - any combo)

Melt butter in microwave (or on stove top) then add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Whisk in egg and vanilla. stir in the flour, baking powder and salt until just mixed. Then stir in your mix-ins - we used 1/2 C chopped walnuts and 1/2 C milk chocolate chips in this batch but you can really add a cup of anything that you have on hand. 

Foil line an 8x8" pan and spray with baking spray (pam, baker's joy). Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes. Let cool completely (or as long as you can stand) on a wire rack.


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