Monday, February 25, 2013

Stitchin' (and Feastin') Charleston Style

Sorry for the long absence...I have so much to share!

My friend and I went on our much anticipated annual pilgrimage to Charleston February 13- 17th for Stitchin' Charleston Style with the amazing Laura Jenkins Thompson and I have spent the last week catching up on everything - work, sleep, chores.  

What is Stitchin' Charleston Style?  It is the most fabulous long weekend of heirloom handsewing that you can imagine.  Ladies come from around the country to learn from Laura Jenkins Thompson and work on the beautifully designed projects that keep us sewing for four straight days. Many of the ladies have come for all 11 years so we have become quite a tight group.  Here we are on the last day.  Do we look weary from so much stitching?

I have posted about several of the projects from past years here and here.  

This year we had two projects:  A linen bag with stump work (raised) embroidery and a white linen lingerie case (I'm going to make it into a pillow.)
Natural Linen raised embroidery bag - in process!   :-)

White linen lingerie bag/pillow (Laura's sample).
Mine is still very much in progress!

We stitch from 8:30am until 11:30 am and then have a wonderful lunch at the hotel.  Then we return to stitching until about 3:30.  Then Laura has an adventure around Charleston planned for us.  This year it was the Charleston museum to see textiles and a walking trip around Harleston Village.

As if that isn't enough, Laura hosts all of us for dinner at her house for a wonderful southern feast of barbecue with all the fixin's and the most enormous bowl of banana pudding you have ever seen!
Laura's husband Joe makes the huge pudding.
Praline toffee cupcake from a
bakery on King Street

And what would a trip to the culinary capital of the South be without some feasting at the local restaurants?!  Of course after all that stitching we are starving!!!

Locally sourced mushroom bruschetta 

And from my favorite restaurant of all...
Boiled peanut hummus with pickled okra


The veggie plate

Flounder with rice pirlou and a
succotash of asparagus, tomatoes and corn

We just managed to squeeze in a late lunch at Magnolia's before our evening flight.  I think it was worth the tiny rush to make it to the airport on time.  Don't you?

So a perfect long weekend of fabrics and feasting and a bit of a hard landing to reality.  I was so thankful to have President's Day to catch up!

Why do four days away add up to almost two weeks of catch-up?  More mysteries of the universe, I guess...

I hope that you have some time away to do the things that you love!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pizza on a Stick!

Yep!  Pizza on a stick!  Blame it on pinterest.  I saw this on a Taste of Home post on pinterest and made my own version for Book Club.
Pizza on a stick!  Yes, please!
They were super easy to make:  

  • Choose whatever pizza ingredients you want.  I chose turkey pepperoni, artichoke hearts, olives, mushrooms, red and green bell pepper and grape tomatoes. 
  • Load them up on the skewer.  Mine were about 4-5 inches long.
  • Next, wrap one inch thick strips of refrigerated pizza dough around each skewer.  I bought Pillsbury artisan (I think the artisan means it is rectangular) whole wheat crust and was able to wrap 14 skewers - I patched some together to make them long enough.  
Wrap the pizza dough - stretching slightly.  Pinch at the top and bottom
to seal it.
  • Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and pop them in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until the crust is golden and the other ingredients are warmed.
  • While they are still warm, sprinkle them with shredded mozzarella. 
  • Serve with warm pizza sauce. 
Pizza on a stick! 
Judging from the empty serving plate at book club, I'm thinking they got the thumbs-up!
These would have been perfect Super Bowl food.  But, I guess since I am not much of a sports fan, book club is sort-of my Super Bowl! 
What can I say?  I'm a science teacher...I can't help being a geek!

Happy munching!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sweet Aprons for 3 Little Valentines

I am blessed with 3 sweet little cousin/Godchildren.  A few weeks ago the littlest of the three came to play with us for a few hours.  She announced as soon as she walked in the door that we were going to make brownies - but we would just eat one and save the rest for late.  What self-control!

Well...Who doesn't love to lick the spoon?!

Such a serious brownie cook!

Brownies?  I can do brownies!  

So I ran off to get the apron that my Dad bought for me on deployment in the Philippines when I was just a little girl.  I wore it and both my girls wore it and now my little God Daughter is wearing it!

After her visit, I decided that all three of the cousins must have aprons of their own to wear!  So off I went to Joanne's to find some pretty fabric for aprons.
Butterick See and Sew B4585 modified
I used an old Butterick See & Sew Pattern B4585 for the basic shape and then flared the skirt a bit.  I also eliminated the pocket (I wanted the pretty fabric to shine!), added a ruffle to the bottom and lined the whole thing so that it is reversible.  A girl has to have choices, right?!

I pulled out the pleater foot for this project.  I haven't used in in forever so I had to practice a bit, but I love how easy it is to make perfect easy pleats with it!
Doesn't it look crazy?

The little metal "fork" looking piece pushes the fabric into perfectly spaced pleats.  You can adjust the spacing by just moving a little lever on top.

It can be a monster to get on the machine, though...

The magic pleater foot!

For my nephew, I found a half-finished apron from a pre-printed panel buried in the unfinished objects pile.  All I had to do was add the waist ties and it is the perfect apron for the Sunday pancake-helper in the family.

I took the aprons over to my cousins' house tonight and snapped some pics.  I forgot how hard it is to get a good picture of 3 squirmy little ones all at one time.  Here are some of our attempts:
Attempt #1 They are "flipping pancakes"

The little one liked her eyes closed and wanted me to use this pic.  So...Here it is...

This one is not bad!

I'm hoping that they have as many fond memories of time spent in the kitchen baking up goodies with love and family  and
... maybe ... 
their new aprons will be a part of those memories.  

Happy Valentine's Day All!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Corn Bread-Topped Beef and Black Bean Chili

I am usually a staunch Cooking Light aficionado - and I still am - but I recently discovered a magazine called Clean Eating while twiddling the time away at the hairdresser.  (Where else do I have time to discover new magazines!)

I'm loving the recipes in this magazine!  Clean Eating totally espouses the way that I have been working toward eating the last 3 years - lean meats, low fat dairy, whole grains and lots of fruits and veggies.  And each issue has a two week calorie- controlled eating plan.  DH and I did 4 weeks worth of the plan and lost a pound or two during each of the 2-week periods.

I found this chili-cornbread casserole in the Nov/Dec issue and have made it twice now.  It is easy and delicious!
Corn Bread-Topped Beef and Black Bean Chili

It was also delicious as leftovers in our lunches the next day. 
The best thing, though...One pot clean up!  Score!

Corn Bread-Topped Beef and Black Bean Chili

Black Bean Chili
  • 1 lb extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chile powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups jarred or boxed iced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
Corn Bread
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole grain cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large, deep oven proof skillet (I used my cast iron) on medium, add beef, onion, celery and garlic and sauté, breaking up with a spoon, until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are soft, 6 to 8 minutes.

2.  Add tomato paste, chile powder, cumin and oregano.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.  Add beans, tomatoes, corn, broth, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper; bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, prepare corn bread; In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.  In a small bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk and oil; pour over flour mixture and add cilantro.  Stir just until combined; spoon 8 dollops evenly over top chili, using up all of mixture.  (This is a little like pouring in very wet dumplings, but don't worry...all will end well in the oven!)

4.  Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until corn bread is golden and cooked through.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese.  Switch oven to broil setting on high and broil, watching closely, until cheese is bubbling, 1 minute.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sneak Peek

Here is a sneak peek at part of the project my niece and I are working on this weekend.