Friday, December 31, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 41

I'm back in the kitchen. Did I ever leave? No not really, I just took off a week posting while travelling around visiting family over Christmas. Since I have two weeks worth of dishes to report on, this post will be longer than usual. I finished up four more dishes to cross off the list, although one is a new addition.






PITA AND DOLMAS

The Cafe World version has a pita stuffed with Falafel and Dolmas. I have previously made Falafel for the challenge, so I made Tabbouleh instead. It is a fantastic salad made from Bulgar wheat, tomatoes, green onions, parsley and mint with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing. I make it pretty regularly and just estimate quantities and taste. I found a recipe on SimplyRecipes.com which is pretty much exactly how I make mine. So check it out there, it would save me typing it all out.

I've never made dolmas/dolmadas/stuffed grape leaves/stuffed vine leaves...whatever you call them. I've always enjoyed them though and had fun making them. I was in the middle of a biscotti baking marathon for a cookie tray fundraiser, so I chose a crockpot recipe to keep pots off my stove and out of the way of the baking. They turned out great. I made this recipe on the Blog "A Year of Slow Cooking" . This blog is a great resource for crockpot recipes and tips. The year involved was 2008, but the blog is still kept current with new recipes and crockpot related posts. These dolmas are stuffed with a rice and ground lamb and turkey (I used chicken) mixture. Once you get the hang of it, the stuffing and rolling of the leaves is quite easy and fast. I still have a big jar of leaves left so I'll probably make these again.




ATOMIC BUFFALO WINGS

I used a Betty Crocker recipe, it was simple enough except for the whole deep frying in batches thing which takes forever if you don't have a great big pot or deep fryer. It is fried in a seasoned flour and then tossed in a hot butter sauce. I set aside some wings for the kids before coating mine in sauce, it was spicy but not atomic. My husband's were probably ATOMIC as he made up his own dipping sauce using all the remnants of his hot sauces. He loves HOT sauce and the hotter the better. I dipped mine in some yummy chunky blue cheese dressing.




WALDORF SALAD

As my regular readers know, I didn't grow up in North America so I am only vaguely aware of what constitutes a Waldorf salad. The Cafe World game had you gathering walnuts, celery and lettuce and I knew there had to be apples in there. So I came up with my own version, although after further investigation I suppose you couldn't really call mine a Waldorf salad at all. It doesn't have grapes or raisins and isn't in a mayonnaise dressing. But what the hell, no apologies, mine was good, better than good, it was superb!! After using a blue cheese dressing the night before for the wings, I got a craving for some good blue cheese.  So this is my version:

Jen's Apple & Walnut Salad:

A bag or about 12 handfuls of mixed salad greens
2 stalks celery sliced
1 small green apple cored and thinly sliced
1 small red apple cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup walnut crumbs
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Vinaigrette or dressing of choice (I used a zesty Italian)

Toss together greens, celery and apple. Sprinkle with walnuts and blue cheese.


BLOOD SAUSAGE

I bought a package of blood pudding and cooked it up with some mash and butternut. I remember blood pudding from my childhood. My dad would buy it and I remember enjoying it and considered it a special treat. I haven't eaten it since then and couldn't even remember what to expect. It was good-ish, although it is very rich and I think it should be eaten in small quantities. No recipe here, just a dish to cross off the list.


CAFE WORLD COOKBOOK ADDITIONS

I unlocked the Waldorf Salad and there is also a new cake - Gem Cake.

Next Up: I'm making Kung Pao Stir Fry this weekend.

Progress: 75/86

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My gifts to myself

I was lucky enough to actually get something sewing related for Xmas this year, a gift certificate to a local fabric store, but I decided to treat myself anyway and over the last two months have bought a number of patterns at sales and bought some fabric to use too. Since today is Boxing Day and many people have shopping on their minds, I thought I'd share my loot with you instead of hitting the stores myself.

PATTERNS: (see captions below)
















Okay I was having a meltdown trying to get pics and captions to align, so the captions are here, from top to bottom with links taking you to the company website for details:

Butterick 4613, out of print, I've wanted this one for a while, will be making up View A in the navy wool crepe (see below)
Butterick 5558, a Maggy London dress with interesting waist pleats
Butterick 5562, cute knit tops
Butterick 5570, wardrobe pattern
Simplicity 2508, Project Runway Coat pattern
Simplicity 2692, dress pattern
Simplicity 3827, dresses, tops and skirts
Vogue 1205, Kay Unger Dress
Vogue 1206, another Kay Unger dress
Vogue 1209, Rachel Comey dress
Vogue 1211, Guy Laroche jacket
Vogue 8692, Claire Shaeffer Custom Couture jacket, my next project in the navy wool crepe below.

I also bought the Palmer/Pletsch Pants for Real People DVD:




I also made an order from Denver Fabrics:

A navy Blue 100% wool crepe for the skirt and jacket mentioned above. Also two cotton shirtings, one blue/green check (bad image quality, not the fabric) and another in pink/blue grey. I've found a few Burda magazine blouses for the shirtings to go with the navy suit. I haven't received the fabric yet, but it gives me time to finish up the other projects first.








Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to all my readers and happy holidays. I wish you all wonderful times with your family and here's to hoping Santa got it right for you!!

My little ones have their version of a Christmas classic for you, if you don't understand little boy speak...it's supposed to be Jingle Bells:

video

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 40

This week I tackled a delish Mexican dish and discovered a new-to me blog/recipe website, Simply Recipes. Unlike some other recipe sites, this one is operated by a women, Elise Bauer and her family and all the recipes have been tested before being published. There are also some great posts to read. I've printed out a few recipes and will be using them over the next few weeks. Both the recipes used in the week's post came from this website.


TOSTADA DE CARNE ASADA


For those not familiar with Mexican cuisine, Carne Asada is grilled sliced meat and a tostada is like a taco, except just flatter.

As I mentioned above, I used this recipe for Carne Asada and I also made Pico de Gallo ie. Fresh Tomato Salsa, also from the same website.

Below you'll see the results:

The Flank steak marinating, before it gets grilled.



The fresh salsa and avocado toppings.


Two Tostadas ready to be devoured.



CAFE WORLD COOKBOOK ADDITIONS
I completed a catering challenge and unlocked Unbirthday cake. There are a few more but they are still locked for me, so they won't go on my list.

Up Next: I have Dolmas cooking up right now and have a feast planned...will post on this next week. I'm also looking for a recipe I can use for Atomic Buffalo Wings.

Progress: 71/84

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Monday, December 13, 2010

And the Pattern goes to....

Ruthie who authors the blog, Sew Ruthie (formerly RuthieK Sews). I'm very happy the pattern is on the way to Ruthie, as I love following her blog and her various sewing collections.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Raincoat Update

Even though I've been quiet on the sewing projects lately, I have actually been sewing. I just haven't finished anything in a while. This last month has been devoted to my raincoat using Burda 7750 View A (Left Below).


The main attraction of this design was the hood. I have a few raincoats at home but never use them because they have no hood. Because I'm usually wearing my glasses, I need a hood or umbrella to keep the drips off them, it is a serious pet peeve, I HATE getting my glasses wet.

I've made mine in a black rainwear fabric with a mocha polyester lining, which is visible in the hood. I'm not done yet, I still need to insert sleeves and sew up and insert the lining, but I've decided to put this away for a few months. I've gotten a bit bored with it, but also want to focus on some winter clothing now. I'll pick it up again closer to Spring, so that I can wear it when I need it.

I had a few problems while sewing it up, basically caused by my left/right confusion. When the instructions and pattern refer to left and right I get confused as I'm never sure if it's my left and right as I'm wearing it or laid flat in front of me. I should've just read through the instructions better as I could've figured it out with the diagram for later instructions. I also figured what's the difference anyway? WRONG!!! Big difference, yes the opening flap is facing the other non-conventional side..but my problem was the zipper which is then reversed and is either on the wrong side or upside down. I eventually fixed it somewhat by removing the top zipper stop and sliding the pull onto the others side. The zipper still isn't perfect, it keeps wanting to curl around, but it works and its hidden by the front flap. The snaps under the flap, keep everything in place and no one but me is any the wiser.

On the subject of snaps - this was my first experience at inserting no-sew snaps, I used the brass snaps and needed to practice a bit, but they turned out fine. I think that was on my sewing goals list (in my head), I'm always thinking about doing new things.

I'm making some progress on my sewing to-do list. This raincoat was officially planned in January 2009 for the SWAP contest at Stitcher's Guild. I then revisited it in September 2009 for the Autumn 6pac at Stitcher's Guild. I finally cut out and started it in November this year, when I was just sick of not having a proper raincoat. So although it's not finished, I'm thrilled to have the major work done.


I'm holding the sleeves that haven't been sewn in, they're not weird wing attachments or something.


With my hood on. The kids have been watching lots of Star Wars with daddy, so think I look like an evil Sith Lord when I wear the hood.

Next up I'm clearing the sewing space and making up two patterns I picked up today at a Thrift shop, both from the 90's it seems. I'm making a long black denim skirt and a casual matching top and jacket. I need some "mindless" sewing while I'm waiting for my fabric to arrive for my tailored jacket.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Biscotti and planning

I decided this was a great week to take a break from the Cafe World Cooking Challenge. My husband was away and with just the kids and I, the remaining dishes were just too much work to tackle. I volunteered to bake cookies for fundraiser cookie trays, so I decided to make biscotti from Buddy Valastro's Book. Click the link on that page for "Bonus content: Recipe" and you'll find the recipe I used.

I made mine with chocolate chips and toasted hazelnuts...a great combination that screams Nutella. Since I also ordered a cookie tray, I opted not to make an extra batch for home, which is great because I have enough of the end pieces and the pieces that broke to last us a few days until we get the tray.



I was busy with the biscotti today, but I've spent the entire week totally absorbed by wardrobe planning and sewing goals. I made some pretty big decisions regarding my next few months of sewing. These will include a wool skirt suit and cotton blouses to coordinate as well as a casual ensemble of a denim skirt (which has been on my to-do list FOREVER) and a top to go with it. I'll post on the specifics in the coming week as well as share the pattern bounty I received in the mail yesterday.

Just a reminder about the PATTERN GIVEAWAY (see previous post), I seem to have very shy readers or no one wants a FREE pattern, if no one comments by the deadline, the pattern will simply go to the first poster after that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Wishlist Pattern Giveaway!!

There's been much chatter about Christmas wish lists and since I never seem to get anything on mine that's sewing related, unless I get it myself, I decided to make sure someone else does.

I'm giving away any pattern you like in the current catalogues of Simplicity/New Look, or McCalls/Vogue/Butterick .

All you need to do is speak up and leave a comment with your 1st and 2nd choice below in the comment box. The deadline is Saturday midnight 11 December (I'm not picky..your time zone is fine, wherever you are) and I'll post the winner on Monday morning, so you can check back then and you can contact me through my profile or I can contact you through yours or your blog. I'll choose the winner by random number generation. Anyone can enter, it doesn't matter where you live.

Have fun and I hope to hear from you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 39

It's week 39, 13 more weeks till a full year (52 weeks) and currently 13 more dishes to complete, so that's just one a week, can it be done? YES IT CAN!!!

This week I finished two dishes, my usual buttermilk pancakes, which I have probably made more than 20 times since I started the challenge, but just haven't had the time in my busy mornings to take photos or make it look pretty. I'm usually cooking and serving as they get done and sometimes I don't even get any if hubbie and kids are hungry. But this week, I made some for lunch when my husband was at home and we got to sit down together (sans kids) and enjoy breakfast for lunch.

I also made burritos, I made enough filling to have them twice and enjoyed them both nights.



BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

This is my go-to recipe, I don't even look in a book anymore, I know the quantities in my head. The other good thing about this recipe, is that if you use fat-free buttermilk, the pancakes are fat-free. I also cook mine in a non-stick pan with fat-free non-stick spray, so the only fat will be what you add on top. My topping of choice is usually just maple syrup, we always have a litre bottle at home, fruit and sometimes if I have some whipped cream. My son James loves blueberry pancakes, so I just toss those into the finished batter.

Recipe:

2 eggs
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk these together until frothy and add:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk

Stir until flour is just moistened.

Ladle into a hot pan coated with non-stick spray and turn when bubbles form on surface and start to break.
Repeat until all pancakes are cooked. It usually makes about 10  4/5 inch pancakes.

Another great practical reason I like this recipe, is the quantity of buttermilk. I usually buy a litre box which contains 4 cups, so I can make these pancakes 4 times, use all the buttermilk and it's used up by its best before date.



RED BURRITO

I love Mexican food!! I loved living in Colorado and exploring the South West and I got to eat tons of great food in my explorations. If I want Mexican fare here, I almost only have Taco Bell to choose from and so I'd just prefer to make my own.

I made a big batch of Beef and Red Kidney bean filling and used that with onion, cheddar and sour cream inside the burrito, rolled it up and drizzled some Taco sauce on top. Just delicious!!! I loosely followed THIS RECIPE


Next Up:  Not sure yet, something easy as it'll be just myself and kids.

Progress: 70/83

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property