Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Quick Mug Rug

Another sewing swap went out the door this past weekend.  The swap was for a 'Mug Rug' which is a little spot to put down your coffee or tea with a wee bit of extra room for something else.  Don't worry, I'm not going to try and eat that egg.....it is well past what I would call fresh....it's strictly decorative.  
It was a busy weekend around here, but I did manage to get this swap out just in the nick of time.  Lots going on and lots coming up too.  We are planning a little extended long weekend visit to the Prairies to visit with friends and family while Ike is on his spring break.  That way, Ike will not miss any school, and I can get back a few days of worked overtime.  
Anyway, this little swap was quite a cute one.....and it gave me a chance to try free motion quilting which is something I have been putting off.....dreading actually.  As with many dreaded experiences, its bark was much worse than its bite.  It was....in fact.....quite fun!  So.....I am looking forward to trying it again.....soon!  Certainly, my first try at it was not without mistakes.....but it was no where near as difficult as I had imagined it would be.  The pattern and tutorial are right here....and just in time for a quick Easter gift too!  Seriously....it will be done in an hour.  I will try it again with a thicker batting, I think, and maybe with some binding.  I always think things look better with a binding don't you??

Sunday, March 18, 2012


After having a conversation with one of the moms at my son's school about celiac's disease......I spent some time on the Internet investigating gluten free options.  At some point I came across many delicious looking photos of arepas.  I had never heard of them before, and they seemed to be so very popular???  They are very popular in Venezuela and Columbia and are a corn based staple bread.  I know I have seen the flour required to make these in the grocery store at some point....so my search began, and my interest  grew.  Yesterday, I accidentally found the corn flour and just had to pick some up to give these a try.  I made only a half recipe (right off the package) since I didn't know how well they would keep...or how well they would be liked.  I can see from my first experiment this morning that I need to make them a little bit thicker, and I have not yet figured out the baking time in the oven.  Even thought they were a little thinner than they should have been...the flavour was nice and since they are quite quick and easy to make...I will most definitely be up to a little more arepa experimentation.  Once cooked, the arepas can be filled with almost anything you like.  Meat, beans, cheese and eggs seem to be popular choices.  If you are on a gluten free diet.....this may be your new favourite bread!  We tried them with melted cheese and scrambled eggs.
2 1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
2 cups arepa flour

Mix warm water, and salt.  Add P.A.N. pre-cooked corn meal and mix to a stiff dough.  Let dough sit 5-10 minutes.  Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.  Form into balls and flatten to a thickness of 3/4 inch.  Fry in a lightly greased, medium heat pan about 4 minutes per side to get a crisp exterior on each side.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400F for 10-20 minutes until they sound hollow inside when tapped.  Serve while still warm.  Split arepa and fill with desired filling.

The dough should not be so wet as to stick to your hands, nor so dry that it cracks at the edges when you form it into a disc.  Add a water to dough just by wetting hand while forming the discs or work in more flour as needed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easy Fruit Muffins

With presentations to do at work this week, I was in search of a new muffin recipe to bring into the customers.  I decided to give this recipe a try mostly because I had a cup of fruit cocktail in the fridge that needed to be used up.  It turned out to be a nice choice and I was pleasantly surprised.  They were moist, just sweet enough, and nicely flavoured by all the bits of fruit.  Nice for change over my usual muffin choices of carrot muffins or bran muffins.  If you have some extra fruit cocktail kicking around, you might like to give them a try too!

Fruit Muffins(adapted from Company's Coming Muffins and More)
Makes 16 regular size muffins
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup diced canned fruit, drained

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.  In another smaller bowl, cream butter and sugar and then the egg.  Mix in the milk, vanilla, and the fruit.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix together, just to moisten. Do not over mix. Batter will be lumpy.  Fill greased muffin pans or use paper liners.  Fill to 3/4 full.  Bake in 400F oven for 20-25 minutes or until tops spring back when touched.  Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Snickerdoodles....the second try

It has been a quiet Saturday morning here as Ike is off camping with his scouting group.  The camp they are using on this outing is very close....maybe only a 15-20 minute drive from our front door.  We were asked to send along some type of snack to share, and since his departure Friday after work was going to be a little rushed, I decided to make Chocolate Puffed Wheat Squares.  They are quick and easy and most kids like them.  After popping out two pans of those, I decided to make the dough....at least, for Snickerdoodles.  I had made these quite a few years ago and did not really care for them too much.  Since I had, earlier this week, been discussing these cookies with a lady who declared them to be her all time favourite cookie....I decided to give them one more try.  From my discussion with the Snickerdoodle lover I sort of figured that I must have over baked mine on my initial try.  So here I go again, and I'm really glad I did.  When baked with a crisp exterior (just as the outside edges begin to brown) and  chewy interior.....they are pretty addictive.  Essentially they are a sugar cookie that is not rolled and cut.  What could be easier??  I was completely out of cinnamon, so I ended up using poudre douce instead which is predominantly cinnamon anyway.  Lots of baking going on this weekend....and this is my start.  I hope your weekend is going well!
Snickerdoodles (adapted from AllRecipes.com)
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Roll cookies in a mixture of:
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. Cream butter and sugar until smooth, add vanilla.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Mix all dry ingredients together and mix into creamed mixture.  Chill dough 1 hour.  Roll in to 1 1/2 inch balls, and roll those balls of dough into the a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart.  Flatten each cookie with the bottom of a glass only slightly.  Set timer for 7 minutes.  Remove from oven when cookies are beginning to brown on the edges, somewhere between 7-10 minutes depending on your oven.  Let sit one minute on cookie sheets before transferring to racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hello...What are You up to??

Well..just checking in to say that I have not yet given up on my first doily project.  You can see from the photo that I have made some progress.  While talking on the phone to my mum the other day, I decided that I should pin out this thing to ensure that it is actually going to lay flat and be at least somewhat roundish at some point.  The cute part of the pattern is just starting to come into view now.......Can you tell what it is??  Probably hard to see just yet......You'll have to wait for another update photo!  Just for a sense of scale....it is now about 14 inches across and should be about 20 inches across when (if) finished.  It has got some uneven tension that I hope will sort itself out in blocking....if it's not too bad that is.  Keeping my fingers crossed.  It is my first real thread crochet doily so I am trying to keep my expectations low to avoid disappointment.  So far.... so good!
I've also been working away at a little swap project that has given me a prime opportunity to try free motion quilting for the first time.  As with so many things...the anticipation of trying this for the first time was much worse than the actual experience.  Again...it's not perfect, but it's only the first time I've tried it.  At least now I'm not afraid to try it again.  So...what have you been up to??