Thursday, September 30, 2010
2. really enjoying teaching sunday school
3. making progress and finishing the stupid baby quilt
4. time together with my friends
5. Watching Blockette sing in church
6. The most recent Vikings victory (Makes for a happy mrblocko, which makes me happy)
7. At least it wasn't expensive shampoo and soap that Blockette emptied into her bath
8. Shampoo isn't made of real poo.
9. Peanuts aren't made of real pee.
10. Being able to communicate (and making a game out of it) with Blockette when I lost my voice.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This was the first quilt that I designed completely from scratch. The new-baby-to-be's parents are big White Sox fans, so I wanted to do a baseball themed quilt. Ugh. Do you know that the existing baseball patterns are way complicated? At least way complicated for my skill level. My second thought for this quilt was to use baseball themed fabrics in a 9 patch of some sort. But nooooo...I couldn't find enough baseball-y type fabric for that.
So I winged it and made up a simple pattern of baseballs bouncing on a black background. Why a black background? Two reasons: 1.) The White Sox team colors are white and black and 2.) The first colors a baby sees are high contrast colors like white, red and black. This was my first attempt at applique on a quilt. I am very pleased with how it turned out. Go ahead and click on the picture. I'm especially proud of the stitching on the balls.
The movement lines are appliqued strips of bias tape. I'm pretty pleased with thinking of that idea as well. Appliqueing regular strips of fabric would have been horrible. Here's the quilt label with more applique. It is a simplified version of one of the White Sox's logos. It looks better in person. The little sock is my favorite part of this quilt, well, aside from the baseball seam stitching.
For all my ornery talk, this quilt probably turned out the nicest. Any puckers are hidden quite amazingly by the flag print on the back. This quilt is also the first quilt to lay flat. The corners also appear to be square as well. I didn't check. All I'm concerned about is that it looks nice, actual accuracy is for the birds. Besides, what parent of a newborn is going to get out their measuring equipment. "Ah yes, it is 3 AM and the baby is screaming, but I want to know if that quilt is off from square by 1/8 of an inch. Damn that woman and her rotary cutting skills!" Yeah. I think not.
Anyhow the darn thing is done and over with. Hopefully the recipients will appreciate it and it will see lots of poop and pee and pukie.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
This process is basically the same as baking potatoes in the slow cooker. All you have to do is chop of a bit of the top of the garlic bulb. You just want a little bit of the tops of the garlic bulbs showing. Then you drizzle a bit of olive oil over the bulb and wrap it in foil. Let the little guys hang out in the crockpot on high for 4-5 hours, while you take a nap, do some laundry, check your email, get dinner ready, etc.
I don't know if I would do this every time I wanted to roast garlic. Spread on a cracker, the garlic didn't have as much of a nutty, sweet flavor as it would if it were prepared oven. Mrblocko said he couldn't tell the difference though. I couldn't tell the difference once the garlic was in the dip or spaghetti sauce.
I'll still use the slow cooker method for roasting garlic when I don't want to babysit the oven or if I don't have plans to turn the oven on, save for that single clove of garlic. If I'm already roasting other veggies/meat, or if I plan to use the garlic as a jam-like spread on bread, I'll use the traditional oven roasted method. It is nice to have the option for either.
Monday, September 27, 2010
The dip was proclaimed a success, and the 3 of us devoured the whole thing. Oink oink. Hey, if eating all this dip in one sitting is wrong, I don't wanna be right. Besides, it has artichokes in it. Artichokes are a veggie. Veggies are good for you. Therefore, by the deductive reasoning of logic, this dip is good for you.
Roasted Garlic and Artichoke Dip
1(6.5oz)jar marinated artichokes, drain & chop(I used 7.5oz cause that's what the store had)
1c freshly grated Parmesan(Don't use the stuff in the green container. Your dip will have a grainy texture.)
1/2 c grated mozzarella cheese
1 head roasted garlic, mashed
salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the above together. Place in 1qt glass baking dish. Sprinkle paprika on top if ya wanna get fancy. Bake 20 min at 375F til the cheese is brown and bubbly.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
2. A fun time at Mrblocko's family reunion
3. The dryer vent issue could be worse. (I'm not sure how, but things could always be worse right?)
4. Fall is finally here.
5. We have a leaf blower so it is now Mrblocko's responsibility to put all those leaves that have begun to accumulate on the lawn.
6. I've still got lots of (at least 80) green cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine.
7. My strawberry plants are starting to kick into high gear as well.
8. At least I didn't have any plans for today that had to be cancelled because the dryer vent is getting replaced.
9. I'm getting together with friends on Sat!
10. I got a bit of my Xmas shopping done already with some great sales.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The little sickie was quite excited at the prospect of a treat that was named after fairies. I felt like such a great mom. Until...
I remembered things that require a candy thermometer NEVER turn out. This time would be different right? I mean if I can conquer yeasted bread, surely the curse of the candy thermometer must be broken as well. Right? Hahahaha. right.
I let the mixture come up to 150 C like the recipe stated. I think it needed to be at that temp for more than 1 second. I took it off the heat and added the baking soda. I think I should have combined the baking soda with a whisk instead of a wooden spoon. I was so afraid that I would loose the bubbles, I did not stir it enough.
This is what happened when I poured the mixture onto my silpat sheet. Yeah, it looks like a big old mess of cat yack.
Once on the silpat I noticed the white flecks of the baking soda that did not get mixed in properly. So I tried to stir it on the silpat. This only made things worse. It broke up what little bubbles there were in the candy.
I crossed my fingers and hoped maybe it would be salvageable. A half hour later the mixture still had not set up. Not a good sign! So, I stuck the batch in the fridge to cool for another hour and I was able to break the stuff into shards. At least it looks better at this point.I called Blockette into the kitchen and told her the fairy candy was ready to test, but I warned her that I didn't think it had turned out the way it was supposed to. We each took a bite, I smiled, crunch, crunch! It tasted good. Hooray! ...or was it.
The third crunch, turned into cries of help from Blockette. "Mommy it is all stuck to my teeth! I can't get it off. Mommy get it off." The initial crunch turned into very very sticky sticky toffee. Blockette LOATHES it when things stick to her teeth. She is very particular about that. Oh she was so mad at me.
Now I had an already cranky sick kid, who was now disappointed, upset and even more cranky. Talk about messing things up. Once we got Blockette's teeth free and clean from the offending concotion, she scowled at me and said, "Next time you shouldn't screw up."
My sentiments exactly. I do like how the candy tastes, and I don't mind the chewy parts. I did find a good use for all that candy. I've stuck the whole batch in the freezer, and when I feel like having some tea, I plop in 2 shards into the bottom of the mug before adding the boiling water. The hot water melts the candy and gives it a nice honey-maple flavor.
If you'd like to try your hand at making this candy, here is the recipe:
Maple syrup honeycomb candy from Feeding Time
Hopefully you'll have better luck than me!
Honeycomb Recipe from Feeding time blog
1 cup sugar
40ml maple syrup
1/2 tbs baking soda
250g chocolate, melted
Put the sugar, butter, syrup and honey into a pot and stir over medium heat. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until mixture reaches (300F) on a sugar thermometer. Take off the heat. Add bi-carb soda. Stir until golden and foamy. Pour into a cake pan that has been lined and greased. Set aside till cooled and hard.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Here are the instructions in a nutshell:
Preheat the grill, with the lid closed, for 10 minutes, setting all the burners to high. Then reduce the heat to medium. Ideally, you should sprinkle your work surface with grits or polenta. (I forgot to buy this at the store so I omitted it. The coarse cornmeal probably would have given the dough a bit more flavor. ) Gently stretch 1/2 the dough into a rustic 12 inch wonky shape. (We thought the dough would be too thin but it puffed up nicely on the grill.)
After some trial and error we discovered that the following technique worked best for us. Place a sheet of foil on a rimless baking sheet. Brush the foil with olive oil. Carefully stretch out the dough on the foil and then brush oil on the side that was facing up. This way, when you are ready to grill, you grab the foil, flip the whole thing onto the grill and peal away the foil. The directions originally say to grab the dough and flip that onto the grill. We tried that and the dough just got a big hole in it before we could even put it on the grill. (If this should happen to you just pinch the dough back together.)
(Above is a picture of our first pizza, not using the foil method. See how the crust is much smaller than the second pizza below? That is because when the dough tore we had to smoosh it back together. We also decided with the second pizza, the pepperoni should be on top of the cheese. It looks much prettier that way, doncha think?)
Once the dough is on the grill, close the grill lid and leave it alone for 3 min. The bottom should be brown with nice grill marks. Use tongs to transfer dough to rimless baking sheet cooked side up. At this point, you want all your ingredients cooked/chopped and ready to go. Spread your sauce, and toppings over the top and slide the pizza back on the grill over indirect heat. Grill with the lid down about 7-10 minutes until bottom of crust is browned and cheese is melted.
Here's the basic dough recipe I used. I wasn't completely enamored with this dough, but it was a good place to start. You can kneed in other herbs or things like olives or even chocolate (for a dessert pizza) to change up the flavor. Since I made this pizza, I've found a few other recipes for grilled pizza dough that sound very interesting. Once I give them a test drive, I'll post them and give them a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Artisinal baker dough from Pizza on the Grill
3 c bread or all purpose flour
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 c milk
1 T oil plus more for bowl
Whisk flour, yeast and salt in large bowl, then pour in milk and oil. Mix with a fork or hands, knead once or twice to form a ball. It is OK if it is sticky. Oil a bowl and set the dough in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a dish towel. Allow the dough to rise at room temp, undisturbed for 24 hours. (I keep mine in the oven with the light on. The light provides a little bit of warmth and keeps the temp at relatively constant.) Turn the dough once about 3 hours before you want to use it. When ready to make pizza, divide dough in half on a lightly floured board.
I decided to make my own pizza sauce for this meal. I mean if I'm making pizza from scratch, I figured I should go for broke and make the whole thing from scratch. The pizza sauce recipe I chose hailed from the blog Bit of Butter. The original recipe called for pured tomatoes, but I only had diced tomatoes in the pantry. I just emptied the diced tomatoes into the food processor and pureed the stuff myself.
The recipe also calls for fresh herbs. At some point this summer, my fresh oregano cross pollinated with the mint plant. Now the oregano tastes like mint, bleck. The 2 basil plants that survived the nasty summer were not large enough to harvest without stripping the plant. I used dried basil and oregano instead. I did use fresh parsley and thyme. (For some reason those herbs have loved the hot rainy summer. They have practically taken over half of my garden. )
Everyone agreed the sauce was very tasty. It would have tasted even better with fresh basil and oregano though. Next time, I'll add more garlic, crushed red pepper and some grated carrot for a bit of sweetness. This recipe made sauce for 2 pizzas with 2 cups of leftovers.
Both pizzas have pepperoni, caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms. Normally, I would shred the cheese myself from a brick. Since I wasn't sure if the pizza would be a success, I thought it would be cheaper to buy the bagged stuff. I didn't want a bunch of cheeses I might not use again to go to waste. I settled on a bag of pre-shredded Italian cheese blend. I also had some leftover cheddar cheese I had shredded for another meal that I added to the mix. I used half a bag on each pizza, but we like an excessive amount of cheese on our pizzas. (Normal people will probably use much less cheese, and have happier arteries too!)
One word of caution, the directions say to not over load your pizza. Try to limit yourself to 2-3 toppings, otherwise the pizza can get too heavy. Also, if you have too many toppings, not all the flavors shine through. This was a tough sell for the hubby who wanted 12 kinds of meat on his pizza. I think we found a good compromise. We'll definitely be having grilled pizza a lot more next summer.
Monday, September 20, 2010
I had jared pesto and crescent roll dough in the back of the fridge. It was fate! All I did was flatten out the dough into one long sheet. Then I covered half of the dough with pesto, and folded the dough over so the non pesto side was covering the pesto. After that, I grabbed the pizza cutter and cut the dough into 8 strips. I gave them a few twists before putting them on the baking sheet. I followed the baking time and temp that was on the crescent roll package.
The original recipe says to add sun dried tomatoes. I didn't have any on hand. I'm sure they'd make a tasty addition. I bet you could add cheese or even olives. Of course, I didn't have anything like that on hand. They were really tasty with just the pesto.
The breadsticks rejuvinated the leftovers enough so no one complained about eating leftovers. Mission accomlished. Just beware, with all the garlic in the pesto, your family may take turns stinking each other out!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
2. My foot was not in the way of said frying pan hitting said brick floor.
3. Said frying pan was empty when I dropped it.
4. Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.
5. Hearing good news about someone who was very very ill.
6. Mind numbing time spent on the computer
7. At least it isn't strep.
8. When I dropped the container of sour cream on the floor, the container broke but all of the sour cream stayed inside the container.
9. Finding out that Mrblocko and I have a relatively small Sunday School class of 4 year olds. (6 versus 12 last year.)
10. This group of 4 year olds is a much quieter bunch than last year.
11. Finding out about that Groupon deal where you get 1/2 off a year membership at the Museum of Science and Industry.
12. Mrblocko talked me into buying said pass when I was trying to talk myself out of it.
13. Blockette's fever only lasted one day
14. Blockette only missed one day of school
15. Finding the earwig in the tub before I took my glasses off and stepped in
16. Church youth group for Blockette
17. Not immediately spending that settlement check we got from Mrblocko's car accident.
18. Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
19. A full night's sleep in bed. My own bed, not the couch. All night!
20.Making progress on the baby quilt I've been procrastinating making.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Blockette, on the other hand, took some serious convincing. I bribed her to try it by letting her take this picture of the grilled pbj. I love how the peanut butter is oozing out from between the bread. What did Blockette think? At first she complained that it was too messy, until she realized that messy was tasty. Now when I ask her what she wants for lunch she says, "PBJ! But can you make it a grill cheese, without the cheese?"
You know what else tastes good grilled? A Peanut butter nutella sandwich. Om nom nom.
What's even better than a grilled peanut butter nutella sandwich? A Grilled peanut butter smore sandwich. Oh I know. It's not a healthy lunch. I would never ever eat or even make such a thing. However, if I were to make such a sinful concoction I would melt 2 Hershey mini bars in the microwave, spread that on one side of the bread, spread peanut butter on the other side of the bread, nestle 12 or so mini marshmallows in the peanut butter,slap the 2 sides of the bread together, butter the outside of the sandwich and slap that bad boy on the griddle. It would be terribly horribly delicious, if such a thing were ever to be made.
Monday, September 13, 2010
I asked little miss sickie if she was turning into the girl from the book Pinkalicious. (The little girl in the story eats nothing but pink food and turns a lovely shade of raspberry.) Blockette laughed and shook her head and said, "No mom. I have leopard-itis."
I told Blockette that we could patch up the holes. Well she was all about that idea. Blockette decided that a heart and smiley face patch would look peachy. She was very specific about having a red heart and a yellow face. I let her pick from my stash and she chose a heart fabric for the heart and a yellow gingham for the face.When I asked her what kind of face she wanted she said, "A smiley face with 2 eyes and a nose." Talk about sassy. I drew her a few options and she was not pleased with any of them. So I told her to draw me what she wanted. What she drew was cuter than anything I could have come up with. I enlarged her creation to fit the whole patch and painted it on with fabric paint.
The paint needed to cure for 24 hours to insure proper drying. 24 hours is a loooong time for a 5 year old. Ages, doncha know. I sewed the patch on while she was at school on Friday. When she got home I told her I had a surprise waiting for her. Who knew patches were so exciting? She put the pants on right away to model them.
After I took her picture she said, "Mommy can I take my new pants off now? They aren't very comfortable." I crinkled my nose and wondered if I had put all that work into jeans that she was no longer going to wear. When she took them off I saw that she had put them on right over her knit pants. No wonder she felt restricted.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
2. cool nights
3. finding extremely local honey. maybe it will help lessen my allergies?
4. finishing 2 good books
5. A nice visit with my inlaws
6. silly cats who get weird things stuck to their head in a smiley face shape
7. sleeping in until 8 am
8. finally starting in on the baby quilt I need to get finished in less than a month
9. Realizing I could piece the fabric differently after I realized I didn't buy enough fabric to piece the above mentioned quilt how I orignially intended
10. Being on the same page with Mrblocko
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
My mother's potato salad aside, a few years ago we went to Mrblocko's best friend's house for a BBQ. They had bought a potato salad from a local store that was very much like a loaded baked potato, only in potato salad form. This was almost as good as my mom's version even though its only similarities were that it contained mayo and potatoes.
This Baked potato salad has stuck in my mind and I have wanted to attempt it, but potatoes never want to cook properly for me. Since I have discovered the blessings of the crockpot baked potato, I have finally been willing to give making potato salad another try.
A few months ago I came across two very similar potato salad recipes that sounded like what I had eaten all those years ago. The first was from Buns in my oven and the other was from craving comfort with the homesteading housewife. I smashed the 2 recipes together and I think I recreated the baked potato salad I tasted so long ago.
Mrblocko, after consuming the first bite, declared it to be the best potato salad he ever ate. I asked if it was even better than my mom's. He gave a resounding yes. I was sceptical, and debated that they were so different I don't know that the two salads could be compared. He replied, "Honey, I love your mom's potato salad, but this one has bacon. Everything is better with bacon." Here's my version of the recipe:
Loaded Baked potato salad
1.5 lbs baking/russet potatoes
1/2 c real mayo (I used low fat)
1/2 c low fat sour cream
3/4 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 lb bacon
3 gr onions, white and green parts, sliced
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp seasoning salt(I used Bacon flavored Salt)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
Wash potatoes, brush with olive oil, and stab the bejeezus out of them. Place them in a crock pot on high for around 2 hours until they are cooked through. Set the potatoes aside to cool. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, dice them into bite size pieces. Let them cool completely in the fridge. In the meantime, cook the bacon until it is crispy. Crumble or cut into small pieces. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to set aside some bacon, gr onions and cheese for a decorative topping. Add cooled potatoes. Stir very carefully until the potatoes are coated with the mayo mixture. Top with reserved, cheese, bacon and gr onions. This dish is best after it sits in the fridge for a few hours and the flavors get a chance to marry.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
This is the second year I've had strawberry plants. Usually the bugs or birds get to them before they've fully ripened. I consider this a very small victory. Blockette won the eating rights. She was so full after eating this massive fruit that she couldn't eat anything else for 12 days. No, wait. That was 12 seconds. I always get those mixed up.
Monday, September 6, 2010
I made these guys in my slightly larger than 9x13 pan, so they are slightly thinner than the original version. I also think I may have reserved too much of the shortbread to sprinkle on the top. The topping seemed a bit thick. The bars probably would have been cuter if the fruit was peeking out a bit more.
Also, I swapped out the peaches for nectarines. I can't stand the fuzzy skin on peaches. (It always feels like I'm eating velveteen or moleskin fabric. Bleck.) Nectarines are just a defuzzed version of a peach, so it's not a far fetched substitution.
Do yourself a favor, if you make these, cut them into small squares. I've discovered that no matter the size of the piece on your plate, you always want at least one or two (or three) slices more.
Oh, you're probably wondering why I've titled this post Shirley. Check out this classic Sesame Street Clip for the answer.
Gonk, gonk, GONK!
Peach Shortbread from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)
Brown your butter: Melt butter in a small/medium saucepan over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns and the very second that you turn around to do something else. Set it in the freezer until solid (about 30 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9×13" pan, or spray it with a nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Use a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips, blend the solidified brown butter and egg into the flour mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Tile peach slices over crumb base in a single layer. Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over peaches and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
2. The new discpline system we're using seems to be working.
3. I haven't been kicked in over a week.
4. Blockette loves school
5. Blockette is fun to watch at soccer practice
6. I got to go out for a night with my bestest friend!
7. Blockette's excitement about walking to school in the rain with her new umbrella.
8. Blockette had a whole day with no time outs.
9. Finding time to read for at least 5 minutes a day.
10. The stories Blockette tells while she draws.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
There were no digestive issues with the top round, so I figured I could risk having some of the t-bone. Oh. Sweet Baby Jesus. It was so good I almost cried. Seriously. We marinaded the steak overnight and it was the most awesome deliciousness ever on the face of the planet.
I feel like I should take out a public service announcement to inform the general public about the awesome combination of the firehall marinade and the t-bone steak. I'd probably do it like an old school Reese's peanut butter cup commercial. You know..."You got your firehall marinade in my T-bone!" "No, you got your T-bone in my marinade!" Good times all around.
Anyhow...as pure bliss as this manna from the bovine was, it wasn't how Blockette made my day.
I thought, what goes the best with steak? Potatoes of course. Loaded baked potatoes. It was 90 degrees out and who wants to heat up the house for an hour or more to bake a potato? Not this crazy lady. I've never had much luck with microwaving potatoes, so that option was out. I was worried that it would take too long on the grill. So what was I to do? Stick those potatoes in the crock pot.
YES! I will never bother with baking potatoes in the oven ever again. So simple and the crock pot costs less to operate than the oven. All you have to do is:
1. Wash your potatoes.
2. Dry them.
3. Stab them all over (like you are auditioning for the part of Norman Bates. Go ahead and make that little sound effect from the movie. It's fun and you know you wanna.)
4. Rub them with a bit of olive oil.
5. Stick them in the crock pot.
6. Turn the crock pot on.
That's it. My particular crock pot takes 1 hr 50 min, on high, to cook 3 medium potatoes. Your cooking time may vary depending on your vessel and spud size. I like to turn the potatoes after an hour. I don't think you need to. I'm just weird like that.
A potato was prepared for Blockette while I prepared myself for a fight at the table. This is the girl who notoriously does not like potatoes other than in French fry/tater tot form. I put on a pat of butter, Colby cheese, fresh chives and thyme from the garden. I let the cheese melt and let the potato cool off before presenting it to her at the table.
I was still int the kitchen preparing my own meal, but I noticed it was strangely quiet in the other room. I figured she was just sitting there not eating and generally being stubborn. Then, out of the blue, my little munchkin says, with her mouth full, "Mommy this is even better than macaroni and cheese."
Wow. Better than mac-n-cheese???? A potato? Wow. That is the best compliment and I'm still beaming from it a few days later.