Thursday, January 31, 2013

Carb-Loading the Weight Watchers' Way

Ok.  Let's just put it out there.  I LOVE PASTA!  And not really the healthy whole wheat pasta - although I'll definitely eat that in a pinch.  I love plain ole white, semolina flour pasta.  

The awesome thing about Weight Watchers is that you can have pasta if you want to - just with plenty of veggies with it.  That's ok with me.  I love veggies too!

So tonight I made Angel Hair Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce from the Weight Watcher website. It was delicious and just what the carb-lover in me was craving! 
Weight Watchers Angel Hair Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce 
See all the veggies that go into this pasta dish!

 A little taste of summer with all the veggies and a pop of salt with the feta cheese!

Blueberry, grape and sunflower seed salad

I served it up with a yummy blueberry, grape, and sunflower seed salad topped with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  

Angel Hair Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce
From the Weight Watchers Website
  • 1 medium uncooked eggplant slice into 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper (cut into slices after it is roasted on the grill)
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic clove, minced (I used 3 medium ones - I like garlic!)
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Basil, fresh, minced or chiffonade-d  (Here is a link to a way detailed directions on how to chiffonade.)
  • 2 Tbsp chives, fresh, minced
  • 1/2 cup fat-free vegetable broth
  • 8 oz uncooked angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained
  • 2 oz feta cheese (The recipe called for 4 oz, but I think that much would have overwhelmed the pasta
Coat the eggplant slices  with cooking spray and place in a grill basket or tray.  Coat the red pepper with cooking spray and place directly on the grill.  Place the eggplant on the grill and cook until lightly browned and tender, about 2 to 3 minutes pre side.  Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. (You could also roast the veggies in the oven.) 

For the pepper, cook until the skin is charred on the outside.  Put the pepper in a glass bowl and seal with a small plate or foil.  Allow the pepper to steam a few minutes.  Remove the pepper from the bowl and pull the charred skin off the pepper.  Don't worry about getting every drop of skin off.

Cool the eggplant and pepper slightly and cut into bite-sized pieces.  

Coat a large nonstick skillet with the olive oil.  Heat over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute until fragrant being careful that it doesn't burn -burnt garlic is very yucky - trust me!  Add tomatoes and cook until slightly pulpy, about 1 minute more.  Stir in vegetables, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, basil, chives, and broth; increase heat to medium-high.  Cook until broth is slightly reduced and mixture has a sauce consistency, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add cooked pasta and toss to coat.  Stir in cheese just before serving.  Top with a bit more feta and basil for garnish.

Served 6 -  1 1/2 cups per serving.  Just 6 little WW points!

If carbs make you as happy as they make me, I highly recommend this pasta dish for a little carb heaven without the guilt!  

Monday, January 28, 2013

New Look for The Blog...

I've been playing with the different features on Blogger and finding some new free backgrounds.  What do you think of the new look?  I got the background from Shabby Blogs.  They have a bunch of cute designs and tutorials!

 I might try out a few more designs just to see what I like and as I learn more about this blogging thing.

So what do you think of the new design? 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

And...We have a Shower Curtain!

After much procrastinating...It is finally done!  The new shower curtain for the remodeled bathroom.  
New Shower Curtain for the updated bathroom

I've had the fabric since July when we finished stage one of the redo, but have procrastinated and pushed other projects in front of this one.  Why?
  1. I am not a huge fan of home-dec sewing - too much fabric dragging around and all straight lines
  2. There was some pattern matching to do here...
  3. I guessed on yardage when I bought this fabric and so I was a bit worried that I wouldn't have enough...I don't recommend this method for buying fabric!
  4. There were soooo many more interesting projects to do!
So addressing these procrastinations one-by-one...
  1. Once I get into a home-dec project I don't hate it so much.  I mean it is all straight line, on-grain sewing with - usually - a cotton blend so everything lines up and presses perfectly with little effort.  And man...when you are done and hang that puppy up...Instant gratification!
  2. I thunk and thunk and thunk about the best way to get a perfect pattern match I came up with about half the idea and then found the rest of it on Sew4Home.  More on that below...
  3. Let's pretend that I actually calculated yardage cuz I had just the right amount to get the right width, match patterns and had a nice chunk left from the middle to make another project.  :-)
Here is a quick run-down of how I got that pattern to match perfectly at the seam:

  • Cut your center panel the exact measurement that you want it with 1/2 inch seam allowances on seams where you will match patterns.  
  • Press your seam allowance under exactly 1/2 inch. Apply Steam-A-Seam Light to the right side of your seam allowance.  Steam-A-Seam is a fusible web that comes on a roll (mine was 1/2 inch wide).  It is tacky so that you can apply it and it will temporarily stick and then you press it for a permanent bond.
The center panel is on top with the seam allowance pressed back 1/2 inch.  See the Steam-A-Seam?
  • Next you lay the center panel on top of the fabric panel you are trying to match and match the patterns exactly.  The Steam-A-Seam is tacky so it will stick together, but not enough to carry it to the ironing board, so I also pinned to make sure things would not shift.

See how easy it is to line up!
  • Take it to the ironing board and press it down to fuse.  
  • Then trim the matching fabric's seam allowance to 1/2 inch to match your main panel.

Trim the seam to 1/2 inch to match the main fabric panel
  • Now take it to the sewing machine and use the crease on your main panel and the 1/2 seam guide to sew a perfectly matching seam!

4.  Finally, Home-dec sewing really isn't so bad!  The thinking about all that math and fabric all over is much worse than the actual process. 
After all is said and done, a few hours work and a perfect finishing touch for the bathroom! Now I need to stop thinking about the roman blinds I've been thinking about for like the past 6 years and just do it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Red Knit Top in a Day

I have been itching to do some sewing and the 3-day weekend was the perfect opportunity.  Many of you voted to start on the shower curtain, but I just couldn't resist a  quicky sewing the new red knit top in a day was born.

Marcy Tilton by Vogue Red Knit top

I bought this pattern a while ago and had forgotten about it.  It fit the bill for a quicky top perfect for a 3-day weekend Saturday.  

I happened to have some red medium weight cotton knit that I bought for another project - all washed and ready to go.  As quick as that - the other top went to the bottom of the to-do pile.  

I didn't look closely at the time, but the pattern is a "wearable art" pattern which, I guess, means unfinished sort-of deconstructed/uneven seams. 

Lapped seams

You basically lap the front and back pieces and sew them down in a quarter inch seam with a varying zigzag stitch. 

Varying the zigzag from wide to straight stitch
on seams

The biggest challenge since starting to sew for myself again has been figuring out what size to sew.  Of course the fact that I'm still losing weight - down 36 pounds over the last 3 years! - doesn't make it easier to settle on a size.  My measurements are all over the place from a 12 to a 20!  

I ended up making a 16 and tapering the waist in a bit (Pattern sizes are frustratingly larger than ready-to-wear!). If I had followed my measurements on the pattern envelope, I would have made a much bigger size and it really would have overwhelmed me!  Thank goodness I tissue fitted the pattern on Donna the Dressform before cutting the fabric.

 I think that what I really need to do is get over my fear of cutting up my patterns and learn how to do a full bust adjustment.  Then I can make the smaller size everywhere else.  That will be my next challenge - after the promised shower curtain gets done!  Ha!  

My pup just couldn't resist being in the photo!  

Overall, the top was fun to make and easy to put together.  I did lengthen the top by 3 inches - it was way too short for me as drawn.  I also lengthened the sleeves from 3/4 to wrist length.  

I'm not sure that the bat-sleeve, boxy look is the best look for me, but it is comfy and I will definitely wear this top with jeans on weekends.

Next up...Shower curtain...I promise!  ;-)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Towels With an Edge

The last of the Christmas gifts can finely be revealed!  
Bound-Edged Guest Towels
I made these guests towels for a little surprise for my brother over at Take My Life and Eat It.  They were super easy to whip up and use just a tiny bit of fabric - which I had in my stash.  The body of the towel is the extra hem from bottom some curtains from IKEA.  I saved it because I just knew I would find a good use for it.  (I have issues with throwing out potentially useful fabric...I might have more fabric than I will ever use in a lifetime!)

I found the tutorial over at Sew Chic.  She has really good directions and pictures to match so I won't go into details here.  The Sew Chic towels are tea towels, but I made mine up as guest towels.  A few minutes in the embroidery machine I had a fun, personal gift. 

The Christmas tree is officially down.  
The last Christmas gift is blogged about...
Are we counting down to Spring yet?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Savory and Sweet

This is a two-fer post.  For the savory, I made a delicious White Bean Soup with Andouille and Collards in the crockpot this weekend...
White Bean Soup with Andouille and Collards 
This recipe is from the same  Real Simple magazine that I got the recipe for the Roast Beef Sandwiches a few posts ago.

This recipe was a winner!  It was fast - Came together in under 15 minutes - and it did all the cooking by itself while I was off walking and shopping and otherwise having fun on my weekend!  Gotta love crockpots!
Scrumptious with a nice crusty bread!
Hubby and I loved this!  The beans were soft and creamy and the sausage was chewy and spicy. And it is healthy for you too!  See all the green?

...and then for dessert later in the weekend some Cinnamon-Spice Praline Cupcakes. 

Cinnamon Spice Praline Cupcakes
I found this recipe on the web at Sweet Pea's Kitchen and modified it for what I had on hand.  I cut out the apple and dulce de leche filling- too much for me! -  and renamed them to fit the new flavor combo.

Cinnamon-Spice Praline Cupcakes

Savory and Sweet...Perfect!

Slow Cooker White Bean Soup with Andouille and Collards
Real Simple Fall 2012/winter 2013

1 pound dried white beans 
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound Andouille Sausage links 
(I used low-fat so I put in more)
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped 
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bunch collard greens, stems discarded and leaves cut into bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper
(I gilded the lily with some shavings of a good pecorino romano on top!)
  • In a 4-6 quart slow cooker, combine the beans, broth, sausage, onion, celery and thyme.  Cover and cook until the beans are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
  • Twenty minutes before serving discard the thyme stems, add the collard greens, cover, and cook until the greens are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  Add the vinegar and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.
  • Shave the cheese on top and serve with slices of crusty bread.
Serves 6 - Generously

Cinnamon-Spice Praline Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
Prepare 1 package of yellow cake mix according to directions except add:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Bake as directed

For the frosting:
16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter
(I used regular butter - it was in the fridge- and just eliminated the salt)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk 
(I used skim cuz it's what I had and it turned out fine)
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
  • Melt the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in salt and brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved, 2-3 minutes.
  • Carefully stir in the milk (Do this little by little because it will want to pop up at you!)  bring back to a boil, stirring constantly.  
  • Remove from heat and add in vanilla - carefully - see note above.
  • Cool to luke-warm (30-40 Minutes) stirring occasionally.  I think that I needed to cool it a bit more so don't get in too big a rush here.
  • Once the caramel is barely luke-warm, transfer to a mixture and add the powdered sugar.  Beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy.  You can adjust the consistency by adding more milk or sugar as needed.
  • Add frosting to a piping bag or large baggie with the corner cut out and pipe frosting onto cupcakes.
  • I added some pecans on top - What is a praline without pecans????
Some thought these were a bit too sweet, but they were a hit at work!  Try 'em out and let me know what you think...Too sweet or just right?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Thread, Paint, Buttons...Go!

Two more Christmas projects revealed...

These were supposed to be gifts for my three nieces last year...but...never quite got them made.  Too many projects - too little time!
I found the inspiration on two different Pinterest Posts  and here.  I combined the two ideas and ended up with this initial picture for my favorite teenaged nieces.  

The second Christmas surprise was another tote from the Tahoe pattern that I used for these totes:  here and here

I love this pattern!  It takes a bit of time to get the pieces all cut out, but it goes together like a dream! 
Tahoe Tote Bag

I have made 3 versions of the pieced bag and 2 bags that were not pieced and I feel like I might need to look for a new TNT pattern for bags.  It is nice to sit down and sew something that you can put together almost without thinking and know it will turn out great, but I'm ready for a new to find the time!
See the cute pockets inside.  I even remembered to sew in my label this time!
I have one more Christmas sewing surprise to reveal and then it is onto new projects.  

Leave a comment to help me decide what to start next...

Shower curtain to finish off the new bathroom 
a fun new knit top for me to wear to work

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Periwinkle Ruffled Scarf

Although I haven't been posting much sewing, I have been sewing over the past few weeks.  So many of the things I have made were hush-hush until after Christmas. 

 Pinterest is one of  my latest sources of inspiration and that is where I found this little gem from Mama Says Sew, I knew it would be perfect for a gift for my girls!

Donna the Dress Form sporting the Flower Ruffled Scarf
It seemed like it would be a simple thing to whip up - being knit and all.  While it wasn't hard, it was time consuming.  

There is a full tutorial at the site above, but here were the basic steps:

1.  Cut 2 rectangles to whatever size you want the finished scarf to be.  (If you want all the edges to have a lettuce finish choose a 4-way stretch knit - I didn't think about that until it was too late so mine have straight edges- which doesn't really bother me.)

2.  Cut 2 different sizes of circles.  My were about 2 1/2 and 3 inches in diameter.
3.  Sew a loose running stitch around the center of the circle and pull tight to form the flower.  Knot the end.

This side is the back of the flower.
4.  Arrange the flowers onto the scarf in a random-ish pattern and stitch them down. Tack the edges of the flowers so that they don't flop too much - unless you want them to be floppy!  

5.  Stitch a bead or two to the center of each flower as an accent.
6.Line up the 2 scarf pieces wrong sides together and stitch (a zigzag/overlock) or serge (I used a rolled hem on the serger with the differential feed set to stretch) stretching the fabric to form a wavy lettuce edge.  

Here is the finished product on my best fashionista model:
Cute, yes?  
More Christmas surprises revealed next time!

I'm hoping that you had a wonderful Christmas season full of family, friends and love and wishing you all the best in the New Year!
Love, Pam