Quilted Pillow

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A few weeks ago I lost a dear family friend, Peggy Johnson. When I went through one of the boxes of sewing and knitting supplies I inherited I came across four quilt squares that she had hand sewn appliqués on. She did a meticulous job. And I wanted to do something with them. So, a pillow it is. One of my Knit Wit friends quilted around the appliqué and sewed the squares together. I don’t think in that order. Quilting isn’t my expertise. I sewed the backing on, put the pillow form inside and hand stitched the opening.

Voila. I have a beautiful pillow that is so awesome it took 3 people to make.

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Mediterranean Orzo Salad

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Some of my favorite recipes are from my Knit Wit girl friends. We have the most incredible pot lucks!  All of us love to cook and bake and feed people. This recipe showed up at one of our feasts and I make it often.  It’s a great side dish but last night it was my entree with a piece of crusty bread I made a couple nights ago.

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo (prepared per package instructions)

2 cups baby spinach chopped

5 oz jar sun dried tomatoes in oil

3 T red onion chopped

1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives

6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts undrained

14 oz can small artichoke hearts chopped

3 oz feta cheese

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NOTE:  I used sweet white onion because I didn’t have red. And I was out of feta cheese…which is really a good addition.   But the salad still tasted really good even without the cheese. 😊

Bring two cups of salted water to a boil, add the orzo and cook for about 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

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Rough chop both artichokes and put them in a salad bowl.  Set the marinade aside.

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Rough chop the tomatoes (reserve the oil) and dice the onion.

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Add the tomatoes, onion, and sliced olives to the salad bowl.

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Add the orzo to the salad bowl. I like to do it when the orzo is still warm. I think the orzo observes the flavors of the marinade and oil better.

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Rough chop the spinach and add it to the salad bowl.

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Toss the salad along with the marinade from the jar of artichokes and some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes. Add 3 oz of cubed feta cheese (remember, I was out of feta) and salt and pepper to taste. I prefer this salad at room temperature but it’s also good chilled. Either way, I’m sure you will enjoy it.

This salad is great served with lamb chops, fish or even a good burger. This afternoon we had left over salad with tuna melts.

Citrus Chicken with Vegetables

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This recipe is an amalgam of different recipes that I, at one time or another, tore out of magazines and filed away. I get several food magazines and I used to see recipes that I thought looked especially good so I saved the entire magazine. When I decided I wanted to try that special dessert or salad or soup that I’d seen I could never remember which issue or even which magazine I’d seen it in. So, instead of saving all the magazines I get, I now try to tear out the recipes I want to try and file them in spiral binders by category. If I try them and they are fails I throw the recipe out. Keepers stay in the binder with a 😊 on them. It’s my attempt to utilize my somewhat rusty organizational skills. Occasionally I sit down with one of the spiral binders and look for a recipe that strikes my fancy and that I have all the ingredients for. The latter is what sometimes inspires me to combine recipes or just ad lib on a concept. This chicken dish is one of those amalgams.

Ingredients:

Whole chicken cut into pieces (or whatever parts you prefer)

3 T olive oil

1/4 cup chicken broth

4 T fresh squeezed orange juice

4 T fresh squeezed lemon juice + 1 lemon cut into thin wedges

4 T whole grain mustard

4 T honey

1 tsp red pepper flakes

5-6 cloves of garlic chopped

1 large onion sliced

2-3 sweet potatoes peeled and cubed

4-5 carrots peeled and cut into chunks

Salt and pepper to taste

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Cut the whole lemon in half, then in quarters, and finally cut each quarter into 4 wedges. Put the lemon wedges in a cup or so of boiling water and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 425. In a large roasting pan or jelly roll pan lined with tin foil spread out the potatoes, carrots, and onion.

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Generously salt and pepper the chicken and scatter the chicken pieces, skin side up, in with the vegetables.

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In a medium sauce pan combine the citrus juices, olive oil, mustard, honey, broth, red pepper flakes and garlic.

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Whisk all of the ingredients together and bring to a simmer. Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken and vegetables and add in the lemon wedges.

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Bake uncovered. Take care not to overcook and dry out the chicken. Use a meat thermometer and remove the chicken pieces once they reach 155-160 degrees. Keep them warm on a platter covered with foil. Return the vegetables to the oven until they are tender. Once the vegetables are done spoon the vegetables and sauce over the chicken pieces and serve.

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I have a thing about cranberry sauce with chicken dishes; see my cranberry sauce on the plate at 3:00. I also had some leftover Amish egg noodles and served the chicken, vegetables and sauce over the noodles. You can change up the vegetables in this dish based on personal preference or whatever you have on hand… Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, sweet peppers, green beans, turnips or parsnips. Any of those would be good. Your kitchen will smell wonderful while this is cooking!

Homemade Potato Chips with Chilpotle Lime Dip

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Homemade chips anyone?  Remember when we all owned a “Fry Baby” or “Fry Daddy” and apparently fried lots of things??  Those must-have appliances came with a plastic lid so you could just store and reuse the oil. I rarely deep fry anymore but a couple weeks ago I made chili Rellenos which are deep fried in a pretty fair amount of oil. So as not to be wasteful, once the oil had completely cooled I strained it using a fine mesh colander lined with a coffee filter. After doing that the oil can be stored in the refrigerator and used one or two more times…unless you’ve fried fish in it and then no, do not reuse. I decided to make fish and chips for dinner.  My excuse for a dinner of all fried things was not wanting to waste that oil.  I know that will make perfect sense to anyone reading this.  Back in the Fry Daddy days I guess we didn’t need an excuse.

To prepare the potatoes for chip making wash them and, using a mandolin on a fine setting, slice away. I used redskin potatoes and I do not peel them. Rinse the potatoes well after slicing and dry them as thoroughly as possible with paper towel or clean cotton dish towels.

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Heat your oil in a heavy Dutch oven until it reaches 375-380 degrees. Carefully begin dropping the potatoes in the hot oil and let them fry until they are lightly browned. Don’t crowd the potatoes in the pan.

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You may have to turn them once. When they are done to your liking remove the chips from the hot oil using a skimmer and put them on a pizza pan or jelly roll pan lined with paper towel. Salt them immediately with coarse salt and put them in a warm oven.

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Begin your next batch until you’ve made the desired amount of chips. I think putting the chips in a warm oven after frying also helps to crisp them up and any excess oil dissipates or is absorbed by the paper towel.

Dip Ingredients:

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 T chilpotle peppers in adobo (chopped well)

juice and zest of one lime

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Thoroughly combine all ingredients.

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Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

NOTE:  If you have any chips left store them in a zip lock bag and, before serving the left overs, warm them up a bit in the oven.   The dip is also excellent on fish tacos and would add a little zip to a vegetable tray.  You can also make really yummy chips with sweet potatoes.

Snickerdoodles

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This is more of a tribute post than a recipe post. A very dear family friend passed away a couple weeks ago and I inherited a few boxes full of knitting and quilting and sewing patterns. In her files I found clippings from 1961 and 1962 when she wrote a column in a local newspaper entitled “A Pinch of This…A Pinch of That…”  She had a “blog” before there were blogs.

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She was a beautiful lady who graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Home Economics. She was a great cook and baker, an incredibly talented seamstress (she made my wedding dress), a fantastic hand quilter, and a whiz with knitting needles and a crochet hook. Right up to the time she passed away she was knitting hats for newborns that she donated through her church.  She was a patient teacher who passed on her skills to her sons and grandchildren. And a few to me. When I took up knitting a few years ago I would call her for long distance assistance and whenever I visited she wanted to see my latest projects.

In her “A Pinch of This…A Pinch of That” column she gave advice and helpful hints and, you guessed it, the recipe for Snicker doodles.   I am a real sappy sentimentalist so when I found this particular column I had to make the cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup shortening (I used butter flavor Crisco)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar + 1/4 cup for rolling

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

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Beat the shortening, eggs and sugar together thoroughly.

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Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt. Chill the dough and roll into balls about the size of a walnut. While the dough is chilling whisk together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

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Roll the dough balls in the cinnamon sugar and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

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Bake at 400 for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and still soft.

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Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy.

In her column my friend talks about making these for Halloween. She says, “I just finished a batch of cookies and put them in the freezer in anticipation of many little trick or treaters. It’s fun to see the smiling faces as you hand each small fry his surprise. This is a good time to remember too much candy for growing youngsters is not a good idea. Vary your gifts, fruit such as apples or oranges along with a homemade cookie. A plain napkin with the goodies in the center and the corners brought together and tied with string, is much easier to handle.”  Those were the days. When kids got excited about a homemade cookie and a piece of fruit and parents would actually let their kids eat the homemade cookie and piece of fruit.

I was so happy to find these clippings. I’ll share more of the helpful hints in the future. Rest in Peace Peggy Johnson. I believe that having her in my life made me a better person.  She will live on always in my heart and mind and with every snicker doodle I make.

💕

Strawberry Lime Sorbet

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Spring seems like it’s never going to get here and I thought a nice fruity sorbet would make a refreshing dessert and would taste like Spring. I happen to have an ice cream maker that I haven’t used in awhile so I dusted that off and put the bowl in the freezer. I decided to combine strawberries and lime to get a little sweet tart thing going on.

Ingredients:

2 1-lb boxes of strawberries washed and hulled

2 T fresh squeezed lime juice

zest of one lime (about a tsp)

1/2 cup water

1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet the fruit is and, of course, personal taste)

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Put the washed and hulled berries in your food processor and purée until smooth.

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Pour the purée into a large measuring cup or bowl and set aside while you prepare the syrup.

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Taste your purée for sweetness and then determine how much sugar to add. I used a generous 1/4 cup. Measure your sugar, zest, lime juice and water into a small saucepan.

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Cook over medium heat stirring constantly just until sugar is dissolved.

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After taking it off the heat stir in the vanilla. Allow the syrup to cool a little. Once it’s cooled stir the syrup into the purée. You should have between 3 and 4 cups total once the syrup and purée are combined. Refrigerate 4-5 hours or overnight. Now dust off your Ice cream maker.

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Once it’s assembled (I had to get the manual out) turn it on and pour in the purée.

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After about 30 minutes I had a perfect sorbet. Scoop out and garnish with a little slice of lime or a piece of fresh mint. And enjoy the taste of Spring!

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Now that I’ve dusted off the ice cream maker and located the manual I think I’ll be experimenting with more fruit sorbets. They are a lot lower in calories than ice cream or even frozen yogurt.

NOTE:  Put your sorbet into a container with a good sealing lid and store it in the freezer. Before serving leave it out for a couple minutes for easier scooping. Also, I had a particularly juicy lime so I saved the rest of the juice in a labeled zip lock snack bag and put it in my freezer.

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Chocolate Filled Coconut Nests with Cadbury Eggs

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In Easters past my daughter and I, and sometimes her friends, would color lots of eggs and then decoupage pictures we cut out of magazines, add glitter and hot glue gems on them. Sometimes they were hard boiled (or accidentally soft boiled).  One year I bought brown eggs by mistake. But our favorite was making a hole in each end of the egg and blowing the whites and yolks out. I poked the holes, my daughter had to do the egg blowing. I wasn’t so good at that!   I have a bowl full of those blown eggs saved. I’m kind of a sappy sentimentalist.

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This is a project I would have enjoyed doing with my daughter. Plus Cadbury milk chocolate eggs are her all time favorite Easter candy. The nests were easy.

Ingredients:

14 ounce bag of good coconut

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp salt

food coloring (pick your favorite color)

1 cup Ghirardelli chocolate chips

1 pkg chocolate eggs

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Preheat the oven to 300.

Separate the yolks from the whites and, using a whisk, stir the whites and the salt together. Add a small amount of food coloring and blend into the egg whites. I used the Wilton paste and a little bit goes a long way. Just stir. Don’t whip.

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Stir in the coconut until well blended. Spray miniature muffin tins with cooking spray and put a couple tablespoons of the coconut mixture into each muffin cup. Gently press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of each cup leaving a nice indentation in the center.

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Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until coconut begins to brown a little. Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for about 10 minutes on wire racks.

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Using a metal icing knife remove the nests from the pans to finish cooling on the wire rack.

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Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish stirring every 20 seconds or so just until melted.

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Put about 1 tsp of chocolate in each nest followed by a couple Cadbury eggs. The chocolate will help to secure the eggs in the nests.

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Share these little nests full of goodness with friends and family. They would make a nice addition to Easter baskets or your Easter dinner table. Wrap them in a little Saran Wrap and tie them with pastel ribbon.

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NOTE:  I used my egg yolks to make some vanilla pudding. We will have that for dessert tonight with some fresh berries. You might also want to use a little butter cream icing in the center of each nest and use jelly beans instead of chocolate eggs.

Happy Easter.