Zucchini Fries

  • Olive Oil cooking spray
  • 2 small zucchini trimmed and cut into 6 to 8 wedges each.
  • 2 small yellow squash trimmed and cut into 6 to 8 wedges each.
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl toss zucchini and squash in olive oil to coat. Arrange zucchini and squash on prepared baking sheet in a single layer with flesh side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast for 18 to 20 minutes or until tender.

Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with parmesan before serving.

Jackie’s Kiffleys

Kiffles

These cookies are a favorite in the cooking guy’s family. It’s not Christmas without Kiffleys.

DOUGH MIXTURE:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 large cream cheese
  • 1 egg yolk

NUT MIXTURE:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

In a food processor or a mixer, combine butter, cream cheese and egg yolk. Then add the flour and mix until combined.  Make 4 flattened disks from the dough. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Put the walnuts in the food processor and chop until they are more like dust. Add the remaining ingredients to the nut mixture.

Roll out the disks on a floured surface to about a 10 inch diameter circle. Then cut into 12 wedges (like a mini pizza slice). Put a spoonful of the nut mixture on the upper 2/3rd of the dough and roll up so they look like small creasent rolls.

To cook, put the pointed side down on an un-greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown. Just before serving, dust with confectioners sugar.

 

 

The Cooking Guy’s Spicy Paella

Paella

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 spicy sausages (Italian or andouille)
  • 1/2 lb medium shrimp (tails & shell removed)
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2/3 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1 large roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. hot paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/3 cups Arborio rice
  • 3 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas

Rinse chicken in cold water. Rub with salt and pepper, then cut into cubes.

Heat olive oil in a nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cut sausage into 1/4 inch pieces and saute with shrimp in remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and onions and continue sauteing for 3 minutes.

Add the rice, salt, saffron, paprika, and turmeric and stir to coat thoroughly with oil. Saute for 5 more minutes. Then add wine and reduce until liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.

Add chicken stock, raise heat slightly, and bring stock to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and place reserved chicken on top of the rice.

Cover the pot and cook for 17 to 18 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is al dente. Sprinkle roasted pepers, parsley, and peas over the top of the paella. Cover and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes just to warm through without allowing he peas to lose their bright green color.

Grandma’s Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • bread crumbs
  • butter spray

Cook elbows per package instructions. Drain and put in a bowl. Add cream of mushroom, milk, and the two cheeses. (I don’t know how much. I’d guess about 1/2 lb of each.)

Butter the baking dish. Throw in the cheesy elbows.

Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and sprinkle with butter. (The Cooking Guy’s simplified version – just spray the top with butter spray.)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour or until bubbly and starting to brown on top. Put under the broiler for 5 minutes to brown a little more. The crunchy parts are the best!

Ruffles for my Sewing Room

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I saw this Robert Kaufman fabric on Amazon and just had to have it. I estimated that I needed 4 yards… which was just enough with a little left over to make matching bolster pillows.

My window measured 56 inches wide. Since the fabric is 44 inches wide, I knew I needed two widths to get the look I desired.

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I measured the window from the curtain rod to where I wanted the curtain to end (right at the top of the window sill) for 46 inches. Then I added the following measurements to figure out how long I need to cut: 2.5 inches above rod + 1.5 inches for the rod + 4 inches for the top foldover + .5 inch for the top hem + the 46 inches length + .5 inches for the bottom hem. Then I took off three inches for the ruffle bottom. I came up with 52 inches total – so I cut two lengths at 52 inches.

Then with the right sides together I drew on where I wanted the curve of the curtain to go.

IMG_0346Next I ironed a small hem on the long side of each piece and sewed the hem. (You should have a left and right side) Then I sewed the center pieces together.

Then I ironed the top .5 inch hem, folded down the top 4 inches and pressed again.

Sew that close to the edge. Then go back and sew 1.5 inches from that stitch mark to make the rod casing.

I had some light blue jean material left over form another project so I
made my own piping out of it. It is just a 2 inch bias tape strip with a piece of cooking twine sewn into it. (use the zipper foot to get a close stitch)

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Now on to the ruffle bottom. I cut 4 inch strips, trying to maximize the print on the fabric and sewed them together….. apparently you need a lot more than you think. Lucky for me I ordered 4 yards of the material. I ended up requiring 6 lengths of ruffle for each 44 inch section of the curtains.

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First I sewed a small rolled hem on the bottom of the ruffle piece. Then I put the ruffle foot on my machine and watched it do its thing. (see my how to tutorial for more information on the ruffle foot)

I attached my piping to the top of the ruffle to lock in those beautiful ruffles. To cover up the ugly raw edge of the ruffle I used a little Stich Witchery and fused the edge of my blue trim over that mess.

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I ironed a rolled hem all along the bottom of the curtain and pinned the ruffle in to make sure I had enough. I was going to be 1 inch short, so I just angled in the bottom corners a little to make it fit.

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I just love how the ruffle came out.

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Now my sewing room window looks great. My next project is to get rid of the ugly futon covering.

 

 

 

Mom’s Stew with Dumplings

  • 1 lb. stew meat or chuck steak cut into chunks
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestshire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • pinch of All Spice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 carrots, sliced (The Cooking Guy uses a cup of baby carrots)
  • 4 more small onions or 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

Put a little oil in pan and brown meat on all sides. Move to crock pot. Add all ingredients, except carrots, small onions and potatoes. Cover and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Add vegetables, and cook until almost tender.

Put dumplings on top of stew and cook for 10 minutes uncovered.

Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove dumplings, meat and vegetables.

Shake 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup flour in a jar. Slowly stir that into the liquid remaining in the crock pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

Dumpling Recipe

  • Mix 3 Tbsp. of milk with 1/2 cup Bisquick. Follow directions on the Bisquick box.

Drop into the crock pot on top of the stew and cook for 10 minutes uncovered.

Tuxedo Shirt Bib

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Next time you need to give a gift to someone who is having a little boy, consider making these tuxedo bibs. They are cute, functional, and they make everyone smile.

Materials needed:

  • ½ yard plain flannel fabric for the front (makes 2 bib fronts including the ruffle)
  • ½ yard fun flannel fabric for the back (makes 4 bib backs)
  • ½ yard cotton fabric for the bias tape binding (or pick up pre-made ½ inch bias tape)
  • Fabric scraps or fat quarters for the bow tie
  • 5 x 5 inches of fusible interfacing
  • 3 inches of 1 inch wide Velcro
  • matching thread for front ruffle
  • matching thread for the tape binding
  • Tuxedo shirt bib pattern

Step 1: Cut the bib front from the solid color flannel with the pattern right side up (in this picture I am cutting two at the same time)

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Step 2: Cut the bib back with the pattern upside down (here I am using the bib front placed with wrong sides of fabric together)

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Now I have two bib fronts with matching backs. Note that the bibs will be joined by bias tape, so you will put the wrong sides together.

Step 3: Cut 1 of the extra piece from the same solid color flannel. (I use the center cut out portion from the bib)

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Step 4: Cut 1 of the extra piece from the soft Velcro. (this will be the piece that velcro’s toward the baby’s neck, so do not use the rough side of the Velcro)

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Step 5: Cut 1 of the end piece from the rough side of the Velcro

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See how the pieces will be added to make the adjustable Velcro neck…

Step 6: Cutting the ruffles…. If you are making a bib that is a little bigger than my pattern, you might want to make your own ruffle pattern too. First measure the length of your bib, then find something with that same measurement or use your kid’s compass.

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Draw a donut starting with the inner circle, then make an outer circle that is 1 ½ inches wider around the outside. Note that the inner circle of your donut should be equal to or greater than the length of your bib.

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Cut 4 of the donuts from the solid color flannel. Cut through one side of the donut so you can open it up like this:

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Step 7: Sew the ruffles onto the bib front using a matching color thread and any decorative stitch you like. I like the arched stitch. My machine lets me flip the direction so I can make it the left a mirror image of the right side.

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First pin the inner pieces as close to the center as you can, then pin the outer pieces so they are overlapped by the inner pieces. Unpin the center piece and sew the outer ones onto the bib front first.

 

After you sew on the outer ones, go ahead and sew on the inner ones. (remember to use the mirror image if you want the same look as mine)

Cut any excess off so the ruffles do not go past the bottom of the bib.

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Step 8: Sew the extra piece onto the bib front using a ½ inch seam allowance. (this should attach on the right side when looking at the bib laid flat on a table)

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Step 9: Sew the rough Velcro piece onto the bib front using a zigzag stitch to secure the exposed edge that will not be covered by the bias tape. (this should attach on the left side when looking at the bib laid flat on a table)

Note that because the rough Velcro will be on the front of the bib, it will be facing away from baby’s neck.

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Step 10: Overlap the bib back on top of the soft Velcro piece and sew the pieces together using a zigzag stitch to secure the exposed edge of the flannel that will not be covered by the binding tape.(Check that when the bib front is placed over the bib back that the Velcro is facing down toward the baby’s neck)

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Step 11: Sewing on the bias tape binding….(see this tutorial by Missouri Star Quilt Company on how to make your own bias tape) With the wrong sides together on your bib, open up the bias tape and pin to the front of the bib. Try to line up the edge of the bias tape to the edges of the fabric.

Sew along the crease line catching all three layers of fabric. Make sure to sew through the ruffles when you get to them to tack them down. Then fold the bias tape over the raw edges and pin it to the back of the bib. You might need to trim any extra fabric to make sure you will catch the back of the trim when you re-stitch the front. Using thread that matches your trim, stitch in the ditch around the trim catching the back trim.

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Step 12: Making the bow tie….Cut a square piece of fabric approximately 5 inches by 5 inches, then iron on a piece of fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.

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Then fold the fabric in half, right sides together and sew around the outside leaving at least 1 inch open. Clip the corners so you can turn it inside out easier. Then turn it inside out and press with the iron.

 

Cut another strip of fabric 2 inches by 4 inches for the center of the bow tie. Fold the fabric in half, right sides together and sew the long side and one end leaving the other end open. Clip the corners then turn it inside out and press with an iron.

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I fold the bow tie back and forth like an accordion with the two ends ending up in the same direction (the two ends should face the back). I make the folds approximately ¼ inch each. Then with a matching thread I hand sew the center of the bow tie to hold those folds. You can cut down the center piece so it wraps around the bow tie and hand stitch it on with the ends to the back. Then hand stitch the bow tie center to the bib front. I tack down each end with a hidden stitch too.

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The Cooking Guy’s Fish with Mango Salsa

MARINADE ALERT (allow extra time)

  • 1 Tbsp. rice-wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. white-wine Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 fish fillets of your choice (we like Mahi/Mahi)

MARINADE:  In a glass dish, combine vinegar, oil, worcestershire, and salt and pepper to taste. Marinate fish for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

FISH:  Remove fish from Marinade. Over a hot charcoal fire or under the broiler, cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until fish is just done. Don’t overcook or the fish will dry out.

SERVE:  Place fish on plate and top with Mango Salsa.

MANGO SALSA

  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 1/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced roasted red pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 Tbsp. minced jalapenos
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh Thyme (1/4 dried)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
  • Dash of salt

To make salsa, in a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

From bottom to top

I found this fabulous silk skirt on a thrift store outing. The only problem was that it was a half size too small. I liked the material enough that I thought it was well worth the $4 I paid for it. This was an up-cycle project waiting to blossom into something new.

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This week I got brave enough to cut into it. I decided this green silk really needed to become a dolman sleeve top. In order to cut a dolman sleeve out of it, I had to turn it upside down. This gave meIMG_2005 the best use the widest part of the skirt. The bottom hem of the top (which is the top end of the skirt) ended up missing a few inches around the waistline. It was not going to be possible to pull this top over my shoulders without those missing inches. I saw this as one of those ‘style opportunities’ I see mentioned on Instagram. I ended up adding a few triangles to the sides in order to make the top fit… but it just looks like a design feature. Yes, I put those triangles there on purpose ; )

IMG_2006I have never sewed silk before. I realized right away that I had to do french seams – there was no way around that with this material. I wasn’t satisfied with the length of the sleeves, so I used the rayon lining from the original skirt to make a hem for the sleeves, neckline, and bottom of the top. That’s two ‘style opportunities’ in one top.

I rather liked the way the whole thing turned out, just don’t look too closely at the neckline as I rather butchered those corners.

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Sewing my own wardrobe one piece at a time…

Rachel

Lekala Custom Patterns review

So my curiosity got the best of me. I ran into a Lekala pattern on Etsy and pondered on ordering one of these custom made patterns. I decided to order directly from www.Lekala.co . BecauseUnknown I couldn’t decide which one pattern would make an optimal test, I selected 5. They end up costing $2 for each PDF pattern. I honestly don’t know why everyone complains about having to tape together their pattern. I rather dislike working with traditional patterns on that thin paper with multiple sizes to choose from – and they always end up way too big for me. But Lekala asks for your specific measurements – Height, bust, under-bust, waist, hip, and full hip. Will they really give me a pattern with a FBA or just fit me for the bust so I end up with a tent around the waist? Here is the result of my initial test:

Lekala #4355 Skirt with pleats.

IMG_1921I had this piece of material in my stash that was donated to me. It’s red and it’s tribal, two things that I don’t wear in my wardrobe… ever. So why not make a wrap skirt out of this. I literally had just enough fabric to cut out the main pieces. There was not enough fabric for the facings, so I opted to sew a 1.5 inch wide piece of elastic into the waist. I think I like this new waistband method a lot. But I am getting ahead of myself here.

I tried it on for fitting before sewing the darts, and it was surprised that it was very fitted. So I reduced the darts considerably so it wouldn’t be too tight. Then after installing the waistband finishing the hem I put it on for a final mirror check. Something seemed not quite right. It’s like the side seams are both a little forward, and I thought the pleats would look better ending a little more in front of the hip. Then I realized what a bonehead move I just did. There was a 4 inch piece that was part of the front, which I must have thought was just a scrap because it never made it as part of this skirt. The thought of taking apart the entire waist band and one IMG_1915side of the skirt was just not worth it for this project. At least now I know why the darts had to be minimized.

For the hem, I decided to go with a rolled hem on my serger. I put wooly nylon thread in my upper looper and I tried it with the stitch finger still in the machine which gave me this nice thick rolled edging.

My little mishap was repeated on the knit version of this same skirt. But I did not have enough fabric to cut all the pieces for this one, so I knew it wasn’t going to be right. I pieced together scraps just to make a waistband. I will probably get a few wears out of both skirts before I send them off to goodwill.

 

Lekala #4123 flounce top      IMG_1899

I liked the look of this top which I thought would be a great way to
use up the last of the grey tee-shirt knit I had in my stash (more free material). I liked the neckline, but I am not one for wearing sleeveless shirts at work. It was an easy fix to add short sleeves using a sleeve pattern from my favorite custom drafted tee shirt pattern. To my surprise the sleeve did not require any alterations in order to fit the armhole opening.

Lekala #4119 drape top

I know this top is not the best way to test the fit because it is made IMG_1935to be oversized on top. It did end up being 2 inches too long on me – so I question the use of my height in the pattern customization process there. It was an easy enough fix. I also had to take a half inch off the shoulder slope to make the neck fit better. I admit, they can’t have known I would require that pattern adjustment, although they have a large list of adjustments you can give them that they take into consideration when customizing your pattern. The problem is they ask if your xxxxx is normal, larger than normal, or smaller than normal, but they never tell you what their definition of normal is. I haven’t done enough pattern adjustments yet to know how far from normal my measurements are.

I asked for the pattern WITH the seam allowance. Some people reported the pattern ended up too small for them. They might have forgotten to add the seam allowance. They say it costs .50 extra to add the seam allowance, but they did not charge me more because I had prepaid for 5 patterns for $9.99. Their instructions are summarized into one page, which is great for those who like brevity, but if you are a beginner, this could be a problem. Obviously I moved ahead with how I thought the skirt should be assembled and ended up leaving out a piece of the skirt. But I won’t be making that mistake again – so wait for round two on testing the Lekala custom patterns.

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Sewing my own wardrobe… one piece at a time,

Rachel