Monday, November 30, 2009

Baltimore Album Blocks - month 6 - Cornucopia

Here is my month 6 block, a cornucopia.  Our instructor gave us several cornucopia bases to choose from and we were to fill them with items of our choice.  I decided on doing some Fall things - a white pumpkin, an apple, a pear, and some blackberries.  I wasn't real happy with the red color I chose for the apple but liked the highlight shading on the fabric. I decided to tea stain the apple so the red would blend better with my other blocks.  That wasn't quite dark enough yet so I used coffee to stain it darker.  I also decided to put some shading on the pear with the tea bag and for good measure did a little bit on the pumpkin too.  Ahh, much better. 

I don't know if you can tell, but the lip of the cornucopia is braided.  This was the first time I'd tried doing that.  I made a bias strip and sewed it into a tube, then braided it, and sewed it down.  Something didn't look quite right - the braid was way too loose and chunky.  I asked my instructor, and sure enough, the seam I sewed in it made it bulky - I could have just folded in the edges.  I decided to take it apart and cut out the seam.  That reduced the bulk and I was able to make the braid tighter.  I'm much happier with it this way.

My second cornucopia is in process.  It has silk ribbon roses on it - another first for me.  And my third cornucopia is traced and ready to go.  Guess I have some catching up to do.  I'll have to applique like crazy to get back on track.  Being sick sure can slow a person down.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey (or Chicken) Casserole Recipe

Here's a recipe that would be great for that leftover turkey.  I used it when I had leftovers from a rotisserie chicken, so it works good with chicken too.

Turkey (or Chicken) Casserole
1 cup rice, cooked according to package directions
10 oz broccoli florets
10 oz cauliflower florets
1/2 cup butter (I use Smart Balance)
1 onion, chopped
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can (5 oz) milk (low-fat milk also works) & remaining cooking water (from broccoli)
2-4 cups chicken (cooked & chopped)
1 cup grated cheese (I use mild cheddar)
1 1/2 cups crushed buttery round crackers (I use Ritz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook rice according to package directions.  Simmer broccoli & cauliflower in about a cup of water for 10 minutes, then drain and reserve cooking water.  In large saucepan, melt butter and saute onion.  Stir in vegetables and cooked rice.  Once they're coated, stir in soup, milk, and reserved cooking water.  Pour about half the mixture into a 9 x 13" baking dish (you've sprayed with Pam or similar), top with turkey pieces, top with remaining mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese and then crushed crackers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Note:  other vegetables you have on hand could be subsituted for the broccoli & cauliflower - such as carrots, peas, celery or even sliced water chestnuts if you like a little crunch.

Side note:  I got this recipe by putting "chicken" in the recipe finder at the end of my posts.  It took me to that recipe site where I also checked off rice and broccoli.  It gave me a list of recipes to choose from; this one sounded good, so we tried it the other day.  It was so good.  Give the recipe finder, below, a try especially if you know what food items you have in the house but can't decide what to make with them.  The search by ingredients layout is really helpful.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! 

The weather here is supposed to be beautiful today, our son and his family are coming to share a meal with us, the house is all cleaned and polished, the turkey is already smelling gooooood; what could be better. I'm very thankful.  Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving and much to be thankful for also.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Best Ever Roast Turkey

For more than 20 years now I've been making our Thanksgiving turkey using a wonderful slow-roast recipe I found in "Let's Cook It Right" by Adelle Davis.  She says that in 100 % of taste tests, slow roast meats are preferred.  By cooking it this way, the meat is amazingly delicious, juicy, and tender.  In slow roasting, following an hour of preheating the meat, the oven temperature is set at the approximate temperature you want the meat when it's done.

Please note:  Don't stuff the turkey - cook your stuffing in a separate pan.

Calculation:  Length of time to roast the meat:  number of pounds of the meat x 25 minutes x 3 + 1 hour for preheating the meat.  Oven temp for the hour of preheating is 325 degrees.  Oven temp for the remaining time is the "done" temp of the type of meat - for turkey it's 180-185 degrees.  And don't open the oven while it's cooking - you'll let all the heat out.

Here's an example of how to do it:
This year we got a 16 lb. turkey.  I began thawing the turkey in the refrigerator about 4 days ago.  This afternoon I'll wash it, take out the giblets, salt it (plus add other herbs if desired), put it in a turkey sized roasting bag (follow bag directions).  I place mine BREAST DOWN in the bag, then put that on a rack in my roasting pan (it doesn't need a cover because of the roasting bag - if you aren't using a roasting bag, cover your pan - placing it breast down allows the cooking juices to flow into the breasts and makes even the breasts very good and juicy).   Put it in the oven for 1 hour at 325 degrees (to kill any surface bacteria), then turn the oven down to somewhere between 180-200 degrees.  The "done" temperature for turkey is 180-185 degrees - my oven's lowest temp is somewhere close to 200 degrees so I use that.  Since cooking time is 25 minutes per pound X 3, if I put it in at approx. 4pm today, my 16 lb. turkey will be ready at around 1pm tomorrow.  The calculations are as follows:  25 (minutes per lb.) x 16 (my 16 lb. turkey) x 3 = 1200 minutes (or 20 hours when it's divided by 60 minutes in an hour).  So that's 1 hour for preheating the turkey at 325 degrees plus 20 hours at the low temp = 21 hours. 

After that the turkey can be held in the oven a little longer until I'm ready to eat (for up to 24 hours of total cooking and holding time).  I want the turkey to be ready about 1pm* tomorrow.  To give it 21 hours, I'll get it in the oven by 4pm today. 
This is a no fail recipe.  If the meal is delayed, it can wait in the low temp oven, if the meal needs to be earlier, then the oven can be turned up to finish cooking it the tradtional way.  It's still just as wonderful.

In the morning you'll wake up to a delightful smell in your house.  With this recipe you don't need to learn how to carve a turkey either - it just falls off the bones.  Of course that means it won't be a turkey that you can put whole on a platter and carve at the table either.  You'll serve it in juicy pieces on a platter - but afterall, what do we want, pretty or delicious?
*I take my turkey out of the oven about an hour before we plan to eat so that I'll have the oven available to bake my various side dishes.  I will stick the turkey back in to warm it after that, if I feel I need to.  This year I think I'll serve it a little differently.  I have an electric fry pan that has a low setting.  I think I'll let the turkey cool enough to handle and then put the pieces in the electric pan, cover it, and keep it warm for the hour or so until it's time to eat.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baked Coconut Tilapia Recipe

I'm always on the lookout for fish recipes - especially those using Tilapia.  It's such a nice mild fish and the price is right on it too.  I buy the large box in the freezer section - each fillet is individually wrapped inside the box so it stays nice and fresh in my freezer.  Here's a recipe we love at my house...........

Baked Coconut Tilapia
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup bread crumbs (fresh or in the round box - Progresso I think)
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
4-5 Tilapia fillets (about 4-6 oz each) (other mild fish could be substituted, such as orange roughy)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine half the coconut (1/4 cup) and the bread crumgs in a food processor (a blender might also work??) and process until fine crumbs form.  Pour into a shallow dish and stir in remaining coconut and salt.  Beat egg in a separate shallow bowl.  Dip the fish in the egg, then in the coconut mixture.  Place on a small, ungreased baking sheet.  Bake, turning once, until crust is light golden brown and fish is flaky - about 7 minutes per side.

In restaurants I usually see a dipping sauce served with it's cousin, coconut shrimp.  Something like orange marmalade warmed in a pan over low heat and thinned with rum might fill the bill, if you'd like a dipping sauce (per Paula Deen).  It's also good without using a dipping sauce.

The first picture below is breading the tilapia.  The second is where it is on the baking sheet and ready to go into the oven.  I've used parchment paper for easy clean-up but that's not really necessary.


Beaded Bracelets for Christmas presents this year

I've been busily working away on beading some bracelets for Christmas presents this year.  I belong to a couple of quilting groups so I made one for each of my nine friends in one of the groups. Plus a few more for others I want to give something to.  I've made a total of 20 of these cute bracelets to a few more for me to keep.  Here is a sample of some of them so you can see how they look.

The pattern for these bracelets is called spiral rope.  My friend Kim taught me how to make them (thank you again Kim).  I decided to make the ones for my quilting group in shades of blue to wear with their jeans (the first 4 are examples of them).  The next one is multi colored for my youngest grandaughter.  That one took the longest to make because the beads are so tiny.  I'm sure enjoying the process and can even do them while I watch TV.  Sunday night my neighbor showed me how to make beaded earrings.  I may be giving some of those this year too. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pumpkin Dump Cake Recipe

I made this recipe for dessert for my husband's Birthday last week.  He loves pumpkin pie; it's his favorite.  He said this seemed kind like a pumpkin cobbler.  It was sooooo good.  It would be good to serve at Thanksgiving or Christmas too, in place of pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Dump Cake
1 (29 oz) can pumpkin puree (not pumpking pie filling)
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk (I used evaporated skim milk)
3 eggs
1 TB cinnamon
1 cup sugar (or 3/4 cup Splenda & 1/4 cup sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)
3/4 cup butter (I used Smart Balance), melted

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix first 6 items until well blended.  Pour into greased 9 x 13" pan.  Sprinkle cake mix over blended mixture and smoothout.  Sprinkle on nuts, if using.  Drizzle melted butter over the top of everything.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Serve with whip cream, if desired.

Children of the 30's Quilt

This Children of the 30's quilt is going to be a darling quilt - another class from Arlene S.   I've gotten 4 of the children finished so far and am in process of 4 more.  In this class Arlene taught us how to do the faces, arms, and legs using colored pencil.  The clothes are done using needle turn applique.  Then there's the cute little buttons, beads, and embroidery to make it all come together.

I hope you can click on these to enlarge them, the embroidery and such doesn't seem to show up too well in this view.

The layout for these little children uses GFG hexigons around them.  I'm using various colors of 30's fabrics.  This will be my first quilt using 30's fabrics and I think I'm really going to like it.

Autumn Harvest Quilt

Another needle turn applique project I'm working on is called Autumn Harvest.  I joined the group when they were on the last block and the class is over at this point.  I've completed two blocks though and will keep slowly working on them until I have enough to make into a quilt.  Arlene S. was the instructor of this class and I learned of it while taking one of her other classes.  She is such a talented quilter; I just want to take all of her classes.  I'm taking several of them - probably more than I really should but I just can't resist - her patterns are just beautiful.

A Dozen Roses Quilt

I've been working on a quilt I call A Dozen Roses.  It started in a needle turn applique class I took at my guild that was taught by Elaine C.  She's wonderful at applique and also is the leader of our Applique Antics group at one of the local quilt shops.  Here is the block she taught us to make.

You may have noticed that I'm using the same background fabric for the roses quilt as I used for my Baltimore Album blocks.  I may decide to use some of these blocks in a Baltimore quilt and this will let me decide as I see how many blocks I end up making.

The next block for the roses quilt was a bit more challenging.........


The next two are finished - one I like a lot and one not so much.  You'll see what I mean.......

Thankfully I can go at my own pace on these; they're not associated with a class - yeah!

Baltimore Album Blocks - month 5 - Inking

I did inking during month 5.  I practiced words, banners that go around the words, and silhouettes.  None of them have made it to the center of my blocks as yet.  I'm doing my ink work on a piece of muslin and will applique it to the centers of the blocks.  I'm still undecided which of the them I want to use.  I plan to wait until more blocks are completed and see if that will help with the decision.

Baltimore Album Blocks - month 4 - Fluer de Lis

During month 4 we worked on Fluer de Lis blocks.  The first two I used patterns from EllieS's books.

In this third block, I combined elements from two different blocks and created a variation I wanted to applique instead of using any of the Instructor's hand-outs.  This fabric looks like lace - kind of hard to see in the photo though.

Baltimore Album Blocks - month 3 - Scherenschneitte

The theme for month 3 was Scherenschneitte.  The first two that I decided to applique were handouts from the Instructor.  They will eventually have silhouettes in the center.

The third one has diminsional flowers in it - they were so much fun to make.  I worked on them while we were traveling to my son's wedding in Colorado at the end of July.  Got to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery and do a little applique too.  What could be better!

The main colors I plan to use for all three quilts are shades of red, green, and gold/tan/brown.  I also think I'll put in a few birds in blue here and there.  I may decided to change things around as the months pass.  With the color scheme the same and the background fabric the same, it will make that kind of decision easier.

Baltimore Album Blocks - month 2 - Pineapples

The second month we worked on pineapples.  I just love pineapples blocks and also that they stand for hospitality or welcome.  The Instructor, Arlene S., hands out patterns but we can also use patterns we have found elsewhere.  Here are the 3 that I decided on.  This first one is from a quilt magazine:

This one is a variation I made by combining two different blocks - I plan to put a heart in the center of this one to go in the quilt that will have the heart theme:

This is the third block I decided on - this is just a close-up of 1/4 of it.


I thought it would look good if I reduced the size, put 4 of the pineapples on the block, and then put something special in the center.  Here is the complete block:

Here is a close-up of the center - a depiction of our family home:

Baltimore Album Blocks - month 1 - Cutwork

I'm taking a class from a local quilt shop where we're making Baltimore Album Quilt.  Our instructor, Arlene S, is amazing at applique.  She's very artistic and does both applique and quilting by hand.  Her work is just beautiful!

I'm still in the process of making blocks but am finally starting to see a quilt taking shape. My goal is to make 3 Baltimore type quilts so I'll have one to leave for each of my 3 children. I'm leaning toward one that is somewhat traditional, one that is more folkart, and one that has a heart theme.  I'm not sure I can actually complete 3 needle turn applique blocks each month but plan to in the months that time allows.

The first month we worked on applique papercut blocks. Here are my papercut blocks.

Here is a close-up of the center:

I'm back to blogging again.

I'm back to blogging again. With a new blogspot name and a new look to my blog, I'm excited to get going again. I plan to post pictures of my quilts, beading, and some recipes I enjoy, plus more. Hope you'll visit often.

I plan to write about and post pictures of
things that make me happy......things I love.......joyous things.