March 31, 2010

Quick and Easy Knit Wash Cloths: Continued

The second of a series of easy knit wash cloths is complete.

Using Paton's Grace yarn, and US size 5 needles cast on 60 stitches.  Knit the first stitch, move the yarn to the front of the work between the needles, purl the second stitch, then move the yarn to the back of the work between the needles.  Repeat this pattern for all stitches to the end of the row.  Flip the work, and repeat the pattern starting with a knit stitch.

This pattern is called single ribbing. 

Continue to work in the single rib pattern until the wash cloth measures six inches in length.  The finished cloth should be a six inch square. 

The fabric will look like stockinette stitch but it will be elastic, and lay flat without any curling. 

** If stitches needed to be added or taken away to obtain a six inch wide square, make sure there is an even number of stitches for the single rib pattern to work out correctly.**

March 21, 2010

Crusty Homemade Bread Bowls Recipe

Crusty Homemade Bread Bowls

6 bread bowls

1 cup water
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine or quick active dry yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Measure carefully, placing all ingredients except egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water into bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.

Select dough/manual cycle. Do not use delay cycles.

Remove dough from pan, using lightly floured hands. Cover and let rest 10 minutes on lightly floured surface.

Grease outside of six 8-ounce custard cups. Place cups upside down on ungreased cookie sheet. Divide dough into six equal pieces. Roll or pat each piece into 7-inch circle on lightly floured surface. Shape dough circles over outside of cups. Cover and let rise in warm place 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly puffy.

Heat over to 375°. Mix egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water: brush generously over bread bowls. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. carefully lift bread bowls from custard cups-bread and cups will be hot. Cool bread bowls up right on wire rack.

*1 Bread Bowl: 204 calories (20 calories from fat); 2 g fat (0g saturated); 35 mg cholesterol; 360 mg sodium; 50g carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber); 7g protein.

**Success Tip: When placing the dough circle over the cup, do not let the dough curl under the edge of the cup. It will bake onto the edge of the cup and be difficult to remove.

Recipe Source:  Betty Crocker's Best Bread Machine Cookbook, page 190.

March 19, 2010

Knitting Quick Tip: Cast on Length

Here is a quick tip. When casting on a large number of stitches it can be difficult to know how much yarn will be needed. To make a good estimate, wrap the yarn around the needle to be used as many times as stitches need. For example, if you need to cast on 130 stitches, wrap the yarn around the needle 130 times. Then give yourself an additional inch or two.

March 18, 2010

Cake Pops

I love food on a stick. It is just more fun.

Ask anyone, they will tell you.

Especially if they are under the age of 10.

While web browsing one evening I came across one of the most amazing blogs:  Bakerella.  This incredibly creative person puts all sorts of desserts on a stick.  I have made many cookies on a stick over the past few years, thanks to my Wilton cookie pop pan, but the lovely things on this site put my cookies on a stick to shame.  The most intriguing item was cake pops.  After viewing these, I went to the store the next day to try it out.  My friend was having a birthday and it seemed like a fun gift.  The recipe as given works easily.  It is simple, and really fun to make.

My first attempt was a bouquet of balloons.

They were delicious.  

Then a few days later, I went to a Superbowl party.

They were a big hit.  Delicious, and cute.  Too bad my photography skills are shameful.  This picture does them little justice.  

These really are fun to make, and the possibilities are endless.  Hopefully in there will more of these in the future.

March 16, 2010

Ballerina Sweater Update: Gaining Momentum

Since the ballerina sweater debacle, my knitting momentum has been more or less non existent.  Only because my daughter so desires this sweater do I continue to push myself through the second iteration.  The back panel and two front panels have been successfully completed, and so far it seems the original design was too wide in the shoulders.  I was suspicious there was also error in the sleeves in the original design, and will begin the second try this evening.  Having the three largest pieces complete has boosted the morale, and the project is finally gaining momentum.

March 14, 2010

Artisian Bread Bowl Recipe

I have been a little crazy this past month, and have made bread bowls from scratch at least once a week. The Crock Pot Ham and Potato Soup is delicious in a bread bowl, and the husband has been perfecting his beer cheese soup skills, which is also amazing in a fresh bread bowl. 

Admittedly if you notice my backside a bit fuller, the bread bowls are the reason.

Until recently, my favorite recipe for bread bowls was from the Betty Crocker's Best Bread Machine Cookbook.  In fact, it was my only recipe.  The dough is easy to make in the bread machine, and it is easy to handle.  The bowl is formed by molding the dough over oven safe ramekins and baking.  They taste good, look cute, but are a bit small.  To try to make a slightly larger bowl I tried bigger ramekins, however the dough seemed to get stretched too thin on the bottom and not bake properly, or hold soup well. 

Next, I decided I would try to just form small round loaves with the dough,

and hollow them out.

This was better, however, the bread ended up a bit too chewy.

After a month of searching, baking, and eating, it has been decided that the following recipe is my favorite.

Artisan Bread Bowls
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, enough to make a smooth, soft dough

Let yeast dissolve in warm water until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients—by hand, mixer or bread machine— and knead till you've created a smooth dough.

Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes; it should become puffy. Divide the dough into 5-6 pieces, depending on how large you want your bread bowl to be. Roll each piece into a ball. Place on a lightly greased or parchment covered baking sheet.

Cover the bread bowls with greased plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to 24 hours); this step will give the bread bowls extra flavor, and a delightfully crisp-chewy texture. Two or more hours before serving, remove the bread bowls from the refrigerator. Uncover, and let them sit for about one hour while you preheat the oven to 425°F.

Just before baking, slash the top surface of the bowls several times with a sharp knife to allow them to expand. Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, until the bowls are deep brown, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack.
I still use my bread machine to make the dough, thus skip the part crossed out.  This dough is a bit more challenging to handle, but the bowls come out beautiful, big, and delicious.

The next time you plan on making soup, give some homemade bread bowls a try.  They really bump up the fun factor.  Enjoy!

Tip:  These bowls also freeze well and are easy to reheat.  Thus they can be made whenever you have the time.

March 11, 2010


This wonderful Snickerdoodle recipe comes from Books and Bites.  When I make cookies I always substitute half the butter for butter flavored Crisco.  So in this recipe I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco.  This substitution gives the perfect chewy to crunch ratio.

Once the dough was mixed, a scoop was used to make uniform balls.

The balls were then rolled in a cinnamon sugar mix, and placed on a cookie sheet to bake.

They came out looking scrumptious.

Just in case they weren't irresistible enough, I then dipped some of them into Wilton's chocolate candy.

And then, just in case they weren't fun enough, I put a few on a stick.  Everything is more fun on a stick.

A Stickerdoodle.  And yes, this is two cookies with a stick sandwiched between them, and chocolate acting as the glue.  

It really is quite obscene. 

My apologies. 

March 9, 2010

Sweet Lemon Salmon

We love salmon.   Ever since the hubs and I were in college we have made salmon at least once a week.  My favorite way to prepare it was a recipe from Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats, and it still is the husbands preferred method, however it is a lot of work, and it makes so many dishes.  After reading a recipe on my friend's blog Books and Bites that was very similar, but much simpler, I formed my own version.

Start by preheating the oven to 400°F.  Next place three or four, four ounce fillets in a glass baking dish, skin side down.  Season the fillets by squeezing juice from one lemon over them, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Next top each fillet with two tablespoons of brown sugar and mash it all down.

Place the salmon in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until it is cooked through.

Drizzle some of the sauce over each fillet on the plate before serving.

Including prep time this dish takes less than a half hour to prepare, and it is all done in one small baking dish.  Enjoy!

March 8, 2010

Dinner Menu for the week of March 8, 2010

Here is our dinner menu for the week.

Monday:  Flying Saucer $2.75 pint night with the hubs.
Tuesday:  Tacos and Margaritas
Wednesday:  Ham and Potato Soup in Artisan Bread Bowls
Thursday:  Lemon Glazed Salmon with brown rice and asparagus
Friday:  French Toast with turkey sausage and fresh fruit
Saturday:  Homemade Mac and Cheese Broccoli Bake with salads
Sunday:  Leftover buffet

Banana Bread

One morning when grabbing a banana for breakfast I found they had all gone brown.  Well you know the old saying: when life hands you brown bananas, make banana bread!

The cast of characters for this performance:  banana, sugar, shortening, eggs, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.


Get started by creaming the shortening in sugar together until it is fluffy.


Next add the eggs and beat until well mixed.  Add the banana and mix well.  In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together and gradually added to the mixer.  Finally add walnuts to complete the batter.

I love baking these in my mini loaf pan to facilitate portion control, and use a scoop to maintain even sizes for baking.

Bake at 375 degrees for exactly 30 minutes.

The loaves come out perfect every time.  Delicious.

March 4, 2010

Garlic and Rosemary Spiced Skillet Potatoes Recipe

If you have not had these garlic and rosemary potatoes, stop what you are doing, and immediately proceed to the kitchen.

Start by rounding up a few ingredients:  red skin potatoes, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, kosher salt, and coarse ground pepper. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, slice the potatoes, chop the garlic and rosemary, and get ready to work.



Pull out the caste iron skillet.

If you do not have one, shame on you.

However, in this unfortunate event, any skillet that is oven safe will do.  Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet and heat over medium high heat.  On my electric stove the dial is set on six.  Add the garlic and allow to simmer.  It should not turn brown quickly, and it should smell really good.  If the garlic begins to brown too quickly, lower the heat slightly.

After a minute or so add the potatoes, salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Stir to get the the potatoes coated, then allow the potatoes to brown for about two minutes before stirring again.  Sprinkle them with a bit of cayenne if you like some heat, stir a third time, and allow the potatoes to brown for an additional two minutes.

Once they look something like this, pop them in the oven for ten minutes.  Pull them out, give them a good stir, then put them back in for another five to ten minutes.  When finished, they should look like this.


March 3, 2010

Quick and Easy Knit Wash Cloth: Perfect Beginner Project

It is starting to feel as if the yarn for the ballerina sweater is cursed.  First there was the entire rip it out mishap, followed by me leaving my pattern at my daughter's dance class last weekend.   So to take my mind off the woes, I started some quick and easy wash cloths.  These are possibly the best beginning projects for aspiring knitters.    Scarves are traditionally the first things people learn to knit, but now that I am making these wash cloths, it seems as if they should be the A-list project for beginners.  Like scarves, they are made of simple beginning stitches, however they are much smaller, thus knit up quite quickly.   The commitment to the project is less and the sense of accomplishment much greater.  Also, unlike scarves, there is more opportunity to then progress one's knitting skills by slightly varying the pattern, and still getting all the above mentioned perks. 

Then, there are all the benefits the finished project has to offer.  They are so diverse and wonderful for having around the house for dishes, bodies, dusting, and they make fantastic gifts.  A good friend of mine once gave me a gift basket with a few of these, some dish soap, bathroom soap, and a candle.  It was a great gift.

My current project is being worked from Paton's Grace cotton yarn on US size 5 needles.  I started by casting on 40 stitches, then started working in garter stitch (knit all stitches on both sides of the work).  After working 72 rows I had 6 inch square. 


Weave in ends and voilĂ , a beautiful wash cloth.

March 2, 2010

Garlic Shrimp with Brown Rice Recipe

So tonight I tried a new recipe from Gina's WW Recipes and it is a keeper.  Even the picky three year old ate most of her dinner.  It was delicious, few ingredients, and delicious.  Oh, and did I mention it is healthy?  Seriously, what more could you want from a recipe?!

To start off I pulled out the old rice cooker.

I have been going through my kitchen and getting rid of all those nifty gadgets that seemed like such a good idea when we were registering for wedding gifts, but have not actually been used in the past six years.  This was the rice cooker's audition for the role of kitchen gadget number 5 in our kitchen.  It was sprayed down with Pam, then filled with 1-1/4 cups of long grain brown rice, 2-1/2 cups water, and two chicken bullion cubes. 

I flipped the switch then checked back several hours later to find it warming the best rice that has been cooked in this house in six years.

How could this gem be in the back of our cabinet collecting dust?  The injustice! 

About 20 minutes before I wanted to serve dinner, I round up the major players:  shrimp, olive oil, garlic, limes, and cilantro.


Over medium high heat  the oil, garlic, and red peppers were sauteed.


Next the shrimp went in with a dash of paprika and salt.  They were sauteed for 2 minutes or so before being joined by the cilantro.  The end result was this.


These beautiful babies were then paired with the rice in a bowl to give this lovely combination.


The entire meal was rounded off with a small side salad and a glass of Spanish white wine.  A delicious, fast, healthy weekday meal.  The whole family enjoyed it and it will be one of our keepers.

March 1, 2010

Dinner Menu for the week of March 1, 2010

Here is what's for dinner in my house this week.

 Monday:  About 15 MinuteTortellini Soup from Rachel Ray: 365 No Repeats
 Tuesday:  Garlic Shrimp over brown rice from Gina's WW Recipes and a side salad
 Wednesday:  Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken   with brown rice from Gina's WW Recipes
 Thursday:  Lemon Glazed Salmon with rosemary red skin potatoes and broccoli
 Friday:  French Toast with turkey sausage and fresh fruit
 Saturday and Sunday:  Dinner out and leftover buffet.