Month: September 2013

Rose Pasta Sauce

  Back at the start of the month I put up a question on the Facebook page asking what your favorite recipes were so far, and what you’d like to see more of.  Ashley-Rose asked about pasta sauces, and rose sauce in specific, so I did a little bit of searching and found one to try out!
 4 tsp garlic, minced
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
 2 c Crushed Tomatoes
5 Tbsp Tomato Paste
 2 c Heavy Cream
1/4 c Parsley, finely chopped
Parmesan, shredded (to taste)
  Start by heating your olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add your garlic and cook it until it begins to brown.  Add your crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for about 10 minutes.  Mix in your parsley and cream and continue warming over low heat for 5 more minutes.  Serve over prepared pasta.
  This sauce is wonderful, but be warned, it makes a ton.  Expect to be able to feed a small football team.  Cutting the recipe in half may be advisable if you don’t want to have tons of leftovers!

Thank You

  Today marks 2 years of this blog.  2 years of recipes, crafts, sewing, a pregnancy and a little boy getting much, much bigger.  I’m continually amazed that more people seem to stop by daily and what a wonderful little community has grown around what started out as a way to keep myself from going entirely stir crazy as a stay at home mom.
  So thank you!  Thank you if you’re reading every time I post and thank you if you’re just stopping by for the first time.  All of you make this an incredibly rewarding experience for me.
  I’m having fun.  I hope you are too!

Flannel Lined "Zoom" Pants

    Look out everybody!  There’s a dinosaur in pants in my back yard!
  G needed some new pants.  Over the summer he shot up at least 2″ (I know this for a fact because when he pulled on his Owl Pants the other day I needed to let the hems down that far) and so none of his pants from last winter fit him anymore.
  We were at the fabric store picking up some material for a project I’m planning on making for myself soon, and G spotted this vehicle fabric.  Being the motor-obsessed guy he is, he had to have it, so I grabbed a yard and told him I’d make him some pants out of it.  Thing is, this is a quilting cotton…and it’s getting cold.  I wasn’t about to make him a brand new pair of pants he wasn’t ever going to wear cuz his knees got too cold in them!  
  So, rather than stashing this fabric away til spring, I dove into our drawer of baby blankets.  We have lots and lots of swaddling blankets and R is past the age where we can use them to, you know, swaddle him.  My “sentiment bone” is broken, so rather than holding onto those precious little blankets, I took my scissors to them.  …don’t worry folks, I still have more baby blankets than I can shake a stick at.
  I cut my pattern pieces out of the cotton and out of a matching set of flannel swaddling blankets (tan with white polka dots for those who are curious) and serged them together so the two fabrics would function as one, thick fabric.  I stitched in my pockets (we all know G has to have pockets in his pants) and finished off the waistband and hem.  Because he’s been growing so much lately, I made sure that hem was extra deep…there’s a good extra 4″ in there.
  They turned out wonderfully.  G says he loves the lining…that it makes them “cozy”.  Have to say, now I kind of want flannel lined pants too!

Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin

  I don’t have a clever intro for today’s recipe…lets just take a look at this pretty, pretty dinner.
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 c water
  Start by setting your oven to preheat to 375 degrees.  Use an ovenproof pot to melt your honey and butter together over medium heat.  Season your pork with Cajun seasoning and pepper and brown it on each side for 5 minutes in the honey butter mixture.
  Place your pot into the oven and cook it (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes.  Check your pork to be certain it has reached a safe 145 degrees internally and remove it to a plate (cover it to keep it warm).  Add your water to the pot and return it to the stovetop over medium heat, stirring it to pick up the sauce on the bottom.  Allow to simmer for around 5 minutes and then serve over the sliced pork.
  I love a good, sweet-sauced pork dish and this one is no exception.  The pork stayed nice and juicy and was generally just delicious.  A fairly quick, easy meal and one I think we’ll be making again!

Ignoring Pinterest guilt and NOT making this project

  Sometimes I need saving from myself.  I’m (fairly obviously) a huge proponent of making things yourself when you can.  Pinterest, of course, feeds this by having endless tutorials saying things like “You too can easily make this cashmere shrug with only dryer lint and a bit of chewing gum!”  It makes it hard to remember that making it yourself isn’t always the best approach.
  This was one of those projects for me.
  I’ve been wanting to make G a geoboard since last fall when I was still pregnant with R.  For whatever reason, I just kept not getting around to it.  But, lately I’ve been a bit on a roll with checking things off my to-do list and I finally got the initiative to do it.  “This will be a quick, easy project” I thought to myself…because apparently I’d forgotten that nails don’t magically pop themselves into wood?
  Now, I’m good at a lot of things, but hammering nails isn’t one of them.  I inevitably smash my thumb or ricochet the nail across the room or both, simultaneously.  A master carpenter I am not, so why I thought hammering 100 nails into a particle board square was going to be a good time is utterly beyond me.
  But, there I was, with my square of board marked off into 1″ squares, my box of finishing nails, a tack hammer and a yoga mat to keep everything in place, pounding away, smashing my thumb and generally not particularly enjoying what I was doing.  And as I hammered those first 10 nails, it occurred to me that, oh, I don’t have a monitor out here and the baby could wake up at any moment.  And then it occurred to me that, huh, I’m spending my only free time today, while both boys are asleep, doing something that I don’t really like, that hurts my fingers and that, what do you want to bet, I can get for far cheaper than my time investment here.
  So I put down my hammer and headed to the computer and did a quick search…and lo and behold, I found this geoboard for $4.  …pretty sure I invested more than $4 worth of time just marking the spots I was going to put nails on my DIY version.  Granted, it doesn’t have 100 pegs like my DIY version would have, but really, if I’m honest with myself, G probably isn’t going to get nearly as into a geoboard as I’m going to want him to, and 100 pegs is probably too many for a 3 year old anyhow.  It doesn’t have the old school black wood with the metal pegs…but this way I also don’t have to worry about anybody getting clocked in the head with it, or putting out an eye on a nail.  It’s a bit smaller, but that way it can go in the car.
  I feel a bit like a cop-out that I’m buying a geoboard rather than making one, but it’s important to remember that your time has value too.  Making things is grand, but only if you’re enjoying yourself!

Slow Cooker Coffee Roast (Paleo)

  Now that the days are starting to get shorter, the boys get kind of squirrely in the evenings.  There isn’t ever quite enough time between when they wake up from naps and when it starts getting dark and I need to start cooking dinner to run them around outside and wear them out.  That makes getting dinner on the table when my Mr. is at work late hard.  Thankfully, at least when I know he’s going to be gone late, I can pull out the slow cooker and get dinner going in the morning, before the wee-bits lose their tiny minds.
5-7 lb chuck roast
1 large onion, sliced thin
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
sea salt, pepper, marjoram
1/2 c coffee (brewed strong)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 c baby carrots (optional)
 Place your onion slices and smashed garlic cloves into the bottom of your crockpot.  Rub all sides of your roast with salt, pepper and marjoram.  Depending on the size/shape of your roast/crockpot, you may need to cut your roast into smaller chunks to fit.  Place the meat on top of your onions and garlic.
  Brew your coffee and pour it, along with your vinegar, over the roast.  If you’re like me and preparing this first thing in the morning, enjoy the remaining coffee while switching your slow cooker to low.  The roast should cook for around 10 hours.  If you want to add the carrots (I suggest it, they were wonderful) toss them in about halfway through.  Pull the meat apart using two forks and serve with the juices from the pot.
  Gah slow cooked meals are such sweet torture.  This one made my whole house smell downright painfully good all day long.  The meat broke down wonderfully and, as I said, the carrots were incredible.  I did find that this needed a bit of salt after it was cooked…the flavor only really reached the outside portions of the roast, so the inside was a little bland…but perhaps cutting the meat into smaller pieces would help distribute the flavor?  I was surprised by how little I actually tasted the coffee.  The roast absolutely had a great, unique taste…I just expected it to be more mocha than it was I guess.  Anyhow, certainly worth trying on a day you know you’ll want dinner to be taken care of before you even change out of your pjs!

McCall’s M6408, Tie-less version Completed

  The wrap for my mom is done…if not fully pressed.  Bad sewing blogger, no cookie…iron your work.
  As usual, this pattern has made me happy.  The boys have been keeping me on my toes…R started crawling last week and as such G is melting down every 15 minutes or so because his toys are no longer safe just because they’re out of arm’s reach.  That means far more time refereeing and less time sewing than usual.  Thankfully this is a quick piece to throw together.
  I mentioned last week that I’ve found the sleeves on the pattern to be a bit short.  I extended these when cutting and then checked my mom’s arm length before finishing them.  I’ve found that hand stitching the sleeve cuffs gives a much more elegant look to this, and especially with this being such a lightweight fabric, I didn’t want a big honkin line of machine stitching around the wrist.
  I did worry a little bit about how this was going to fall since it’s such a light fabric, but a nice, deep, 1″ hem weights it down enough to work.
  I still kind of want to try this pattern in a woven, just to see how it’d work.  I think it could make a darling robe if it were lengthened a bit and I think it has enough ease that it’d work just fine.  We’ll see if I ever get around to it…
  I’m guessing that after 3 incarnations you guys probably don’t have any questions about this, but if you do, let me know!

Smoked Sausage, Pepper and Zucchini Foil Packs

  I’m a sucker for foil pouch meals.  Ever since I was a little girl in the Girl Scouts having hobo stew over the campfire, anything cooked wrapped in foil just has an extra bit of appeal to me.  Plus, (and lets be honest here, this is the big reason) foil packs are extremely low maintenance cooking.  Low active-cooking time and no dishes afterwards?  Sign me up!
  Here’s what we’re making:
  Normally I would, of course, give you the source of the recipe.  This one however, I just kind of took inspiration from about 8 different places and changed everything…so…here we go!
Here’s what you need:
14 oz smoked sausage, cut into bite sized pieces*
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large, yellow onion, chopped
2 medium zucchini, sliced
~3 Tbsp olive oil
garlic salt and pepper to taste
*This makes a fairly veggie heavy meal.  If your family is carnivorous add more sausage.
  Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.  If you’re a slow chopper like me, it should be ready to go by the time your veggies are prepared.  Once it’s sliced, place everything into a large bowl, top with olive oil and mix to coat and distribute the spices.  When everything is combined, divide your mixture into foil packages, crimping the edges shut to seal everything inside.  Cook the packs for 30-40 minutes, depending on how soft you want your vegetables.  Remove the packs from the oven and carefully open them, keeping a hot pad between the opening and your hand to deflect steam.  Allow to cool a few moments before serving.
  I cooked ours for 30 minutes.  I think next time I might do a few minutes more.  We like our veggies to still be a little crunchy, but I could have done with just a touch softer.  This is a nice, simple meal and a great way to get a whole bunch of veggies on your plate without much work.  G, of course, belly-ached about the veggies, but picked the sausage out of his portion.  His reaction to food isn’t much to be trusted as a gauge of anything anymore though…I swear that if I gave him ice cream for dinner he’d complain it was the wrong flavor.  3 and a half!  Best age ever!  *grumbles*

Adding Lighting- One Simple Improvement to Keep Your Closet Organized

  When we first moved into our house, one of the things I was the most excited about was our closet.  Call me a dork if you will, but the previous owners had put in a California style organizational system similar to what I’d been attempting to jerry-rig in our houses and apartments for as long as I could remember.  But, somehow, despite the organization system, we never seemed able to keep things from getting destroyed in there.
  Finally, I realized why.  It was too dark!  We couldn’t actually see anything and so when things would slip off hangers we couldn’t find them and it was difficult to see what we had, what needed to be gotten rid of and what was just out of place.
  The Mr. and I have talked about running true lighting in there (there’s currently one lightbulb, just inside the door, that’s rendered essentially useless by shelves…I wish that first shot were exaggerated darkness.  It’s not), but because of the way our house is built, getting the wiring to it would be difficult.  We attempted stick-on lights, but because the ceiling is slanted, they only pointed at one half of the room…and they kept falling off anyhow.
  Finally, one day it occurred to me that I could use rope lights.
  I measured the baseboards of our closet, originally intending just to light the floor, and headed to my local hardware store.  I started with 24 ft of lighting, an extension cord to run power into my closet and one of these “remote switch” extension cords so I wouldn’t have to plug and unplug everything when I wanted to use it.
  As you can see in the pictures above, I very quickly decided I wanted more lights.  I went back for another 24 feet so I could run lighting under my main shelves as well.
  Now, I’m not going to say that this has changed my closet from night to day…it hasn’t.  But it has made the difference between my never in a million years seeing that two of my favorite shirts (above) had fallen off the hangers onto the floor and my immediately seeing them and picking them up.  The difference between having to guess at which of my dresses I was pulling out of the closet until I was to the door and being able to determine which is black and which is navy.
  We still have organizing to do.  Both of us have more clothing than we need (me especially) and that makes it tough to keep things in order, but this is a huge step in the right direction.  Instead of just pawing aimlessly through my stuff, I can see what I have and easily pull things that I don’t want anymore out!
  Not bad for $50 and an afternoon of work!

Blue Cheese and Honey Nectarines

  The colder weather is starting to creep in and before we know it, it will be time to put the grill away.  Before that happens, lets get a few more meals cooked over the coals.  Today’s recipe is a side to go along with your ribs and steaks.
3 nectarines, halved and pitted
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Fresh thyme for garnish
  When preparing your grill, spread your heated coals over one half of the grill, leaving the other half of the grate empty.  Cook your meat over the charcoal and use the empty area for your nectarines.
  Cut your nectarines in half, remove the pit and fill the cavity with blue cheese.  Drizzle with honey and season with pepper.  Place them on the cooler side of the grill and allow the cheese to melt and the exterior to become slightly charred.  Remove from the grill and garnish with thyme leaves.
  There is little in this world that says “summer” to me more than grilled food, and fruit just gets such a fabulous flavor over the coals.  Adding cheese?  Well you know I’m on board there.
  G didn’t want to try his.  G doesn’t want to try anything lately, so that’s not a surprise.  I didn’t really mind, it meant more for me!  Definitely squeeze this in to these last few days before the cold rolls in.  There will be plenty of time for hearty stews and pumpkin soon, savor these last few days of warmth!