Category Archives: Food

Great Internet Finds: Purl Bee’s Liberty Backpacks turned Ballet Bag

 

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We are back from a very long summer break! With three little ones and a summer full of traveling, playing, working, etc., we took a break from blogging (and quite a few other things). But with fall in the air, preschool starting up again, and even my little three year old starting her first dance class, it’s time to get the blog going again.

So, first up is this super quick and easy Purl Bee tutorial gem – a backpack tutorial I used to make my daughter a ballet backpack. I found this adorable Anna Griffin Arabesque ballet shoe fabric at my favorite online fabric store. The fabric, plus Purl Bee’s easy to follow, easy to make tutorial was a perfect combination. My daughter had been asking for a backpack, and with her ballet class starting up in a week, I figured this was a perfect solution.IMG_8736edit

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The Purl Bee blog does impeccable tutorials, and I was looking to do a very quick and easy project, as I was on a time crunch, so I didn’t change a single thing (except the fabric).  However, if I had to do it again, I would have shortened the straps a bit (which I may still do).  I wanted the bag to be a surprise for my daughter, so I didn’t fit her while making it.  So one suggestion, try on the backpack before sewing the straps in, to make sure you like the length.  There are three sizes- toddler, child, and adult.  I chose the child size, even though my daughter is still kind of growing out of the toddler phase- this way, she can grow into it a bit and her ballet gear will fit easily.  Now we are ready to go, and she couldn’t be more excited!  My son is now making sure that I know he wants one with truck fabric for his birthday in a couple months.  Fortunately, this backpack can be whipped up in an hour or two and for less than $10, so it should be no problem!

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Filed under Fabric Finding, Food, Sewing

Mother’s Day Worthy Belgian Waffle Recipe

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Last Mother’s Day, my life was changed forever. My amazing husband (who was probably tired of hearing me pining for a certain breakfast food) bought me a fantabulous Double Belgian Waffle Maker. Our breakfasts have gone from eh to ahhhh! I am a huge waffle fan, the fatter the better.  So, I have an incredible Belgian Waffle recipe that we make when taking the extra time to make extra delicious waffles (normally I use Bob’s Red Mill 10 grain Pancake and Waffle Mix for quick mornings – also pretty great!).  You can be sure we will be basking in these waffles on Mother’s Day, to celebrate the one year with our beloved Waffle Maker! These can be made with any waffle maker, by the way. Oh, and quick confession- as much as I love Belgian waffles, I had to go back and correct every single reference from my original “Belgium” waffles.  I have learned a lot here! Hope you do, too!

Mother’s Day Worthy Belgian Waffles:

(slightly adapted from the Washington State Bed & Breakfast Cookbook’s Angelica’s recipe)

Makes 12 (4 inch) waffles:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup half & half (or whole milk works fine, too)
  • 3/4 cup light sour cream (plain greek yogurt works, also)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks till smooth. Mix in half & half, sour cream, butter, and vanilla.  In another bowl,  add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix well.  Gradually add flour mixture to half & half mixture. Combine gently.

In a third bowl (or mixer), beat egg whites until stiff, then gently fold egg whites into the rest of the batter.  Cook waffles in a prepared waffle iron until golden brown. Serve immediately with strawberries, blueberries, fresh whipped cream, or whatever toppings you love, and of course, warm, real maple syrup (mom deserves it!). Happy Mother’s Day!

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Filed under Food, Holiday

Cooking with Kids Series: Cheesy Cornbread

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I’m obviously a frets and spurts kind of a gal when it comes to blogging- I have oh so many excuses (good ones!), but instead of getting into those, I will just get on with this fun recipe I did with the kids! With Spring finally looking like it’s closing in, I am ready to start heading to the farmers market and making tons of fresh fruit and veggie dishes.  But we aren’t quite there yet, and another just cool enough, just damp enough day called for a little comfort food.  So I decided to combine a few favorite cornbread recipes to get a kid friendly (less messy when eaten) cornbread.  This one is great because there was plenty of pouring and stirring for my kids to do, and they really couldn’t get enough of the outcome!

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CHEESY CORNBREAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • Butter or Crisco for greasing the pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or read my note on the milk/vinegar alternative that works great)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp or sharp cheddar cheese

– I have bought buttermilk in the past when making different recipes that called for it, and the extra always sits for ages after, while I try to think of another recipe with buttermilk.  And it always gets tossed. So, instead of buying it this time, I decided to try the milk/vinegar trick.  Just mix a scant cup of milk with a Tbsp. of white vinegar, stir well, and then let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.  This replaces buttermilk well enough, in my opinion (but I can’t claim to be a huge buttermilk fan! – see this link from the Kitchn for more details).

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease the pie dish, bottom and sides.
  2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Stir until blended well.
  3. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, honey, and egg.  Mix well.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredient mixture.  Stir together gently until almost blended.  Add the shredded cheese and stir until just blended.
  5. Using a spoon or spatula, pour the mixture into a pie dish and smooth down.
  6. Place in the middle of your oven for aprox. 25 minutes, until top is golden-brown.   Check doneness by inserting a toothpick on the middle of the dish.  It is done if the toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Leftovers can pack up nicely in lunches, or for snack the next day.  This is fantastic with soup.  Although, honestly, I will be happy to see the cozy soup days go for awhile!

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Cooking With Kids Series: Fruity Breakfast Shakes

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Around our home, food is a big deal. It has always been a major priority to introduce our children (and ourselves) to the delicious, healthy, fantastic foods that the earth has to offer. We’ve also tried to involve them in the preparation, as age permits, and they are SO excited when we do – in fact, as a side note, I have noticed this is a fantastic way to get them more interested in trying new foods.  However, with so many things on our plate, and now our little baby starting to eat her own new foods, I find I have been less and less motivated to involve the kids.  And, even worse, I am falling into the rut of the same food repertoire week in and week out.  With the shelves and shelves of cookbooks in our home, I decided I needed to shake it up.

So, I pulled out a few of our kid friendly cookbooks and let the kids thumb through them.  We decided each week, we would mark on a calender what foods we would make together, new recipes we hadn’t tried before.  Of course, children of mine came back with all desserts, so we changed it up a bit- one dessert and one other for each kid per week.  We will be doing so week by week.

It has been fun so far.  Good for giving me ideas on quick, healthy, and kid friendly things I can put together, and great for teaching my children the basics of the kitchen.  The husband and I both have a goal that we would love to see our children leave our home with some real cooking skills.  We believe it will benefit their health, their self-sufficiency, their finances, maybe even their social life (Brad didn’t have to try too hard, but his cooking definitely helped win me over!).

I decided to incorporate this as a series on the blog: The Cooking with Kids Series, where I will share one or two of the recipes we did the week before.  Last week, with a lot going on for Valentine’s, I wasn’t too quick with the camera while we did it, so I’m sharing the simplest recipe we did (and the only one I took any pictures of!).  However, it is a super one to add to your little recipe book in your brain, because it is super quick, healthy, and my kids went gaga for it.  It’s kind of a no-brainer, but one I hadn’t done yet, so maybe it will benefit someone else as well.

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This one we adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Kid’s Cookbook: A great book for kids who love to cook:

Fruity Breakfast Shake:

1 cup vanilla yogurt (I used Greek, organic)

1 cup strawberries, or peaches, or blueberries (Since it’s winter, we did frozen and left them about half frozen, blueberries leave completely frozen).

1 Tbsp. honey (Blueberries will not need this sweetness, but it can be added if desired anyway).

A handfull of ice if using fresh fruit.

Put ingredients into a blender and blend well.  We have a stick blender and use it daily- I highly recommend one. We used that for this (so clean up is about ten seconds!).

Pour into cups and enjoy!

I know, kind of a duh! recipe, but the kids loved it, it was a great way to get some different fruit in at breakfast in the middle of Winter, and since we did strawberries, it was a perfect Valentine’s week treat.IMG_6971-editMy daughter was so inspired, she spent the morning “baking cake” from the recipe book!

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Filed under Book, Cooking with Kids, Food

Warm Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies on a Snow Day

Aside from a couple of one day or less dusts of snow, we have had nil until this weekend.  I was, on one hand, mad, because part way into February means I might even start running outside, the kids can hit the parks (in coats), and Spring is not so far away.  I am a Spring girl.  But the kids hadn’t really got a chance to play in the snow, and really, what good is seriously cold weather with no snow at all!

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It really hit here in Washington, finally.  It was a fun shake up for February, which, though short, always seems to drag for me.

So the kids got out and played.  We haven’t bought a sled yet, and Brad was seriously wishing he could head to Target to grab one.  We decided it was a bit too nasty out to justify, so he made a make shift sled to pull the kids around our hill-less backyard.  It’s a big Rubbermaid storage container lid inside a big black trash bag.  My MacGyver!

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The baby didn’t last too long, so she and I went indoors and whipped up some peanut butter cookies to warm the kids’ bellies when they came in.

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I haven’t done a recipe on the blog in awhile, so here it is:

Quick & Easy Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies:

Ingredients

½ cup butter (I’m dairy free for now, for babies sake,  and used a dairy free butter substitute stick, which worked perfectly)

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup honey (or brown sugar)

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. vanilla

1 egg

1 ¼ cup whole wheat (feel free to use white flour if you like, but it turns out awesome with whole wheat, so why not?!)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix butter & peanut butter  (I prefer in a mixer if you have one- mix for about 30 seconds.)

Add sugar, honey, baking powder and baking soda and mix until combined.

Add egg and vanilla, beat in, then add flour and mix just till all ingredients are combined well.

Ball up about a Tbsp. of dough, and place on a cookie sheet ( I always add parchment paper to the sheet before laying down dough.  I find this makes for very even baking).

Continue with enough balls to fill sheet, with about two inches in between each ball of dough.

Gently and barely push down each ball by making an X with a fork (or whatever you prefer on you peanut butter cookies).

Bake in the center of the oven for 7 minutes.

When it’s done, immediately put onto a cooling rack.  I gently pull the parchment paper off of the sheet and onto the rack with the cookies still on the paper.  I find this made for the perfect chewiness when cooled a bit (Who doesn’t love a perfectly chewy cookie!). If you don’t use parchment, give the cookies a couple minutes on the cookie sheet (on the rack), then remove with a spatula to the cooling rack. I find letting them sit too long on a sheet cooks the cookies too much. Let cool about ten minutes total then Enjoy (unless you’re me- I waited about one).

With a mixer this takes about 10-15 minutes to put together and bakes quick.  Easy, quick, not too dirty! Perfect for a snowy day! Sorry no pictures- I was trying to hurry, and it didn’t cross my mind (and they were gone before it did!).

What are you doing on your snow days? We love great ideas, because it’s looking like Spring is a ways away!

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Paris Envy

On this cozy, rainy, cool Autumn day:

I finished Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co., a memoir by Jeremy Mercer.
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I sewed up a Chocolat pillow.
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While listening to my Carla Bruni station on Pandora.
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With my two little girls (who have quite obviously French names) playing/sleeping in the office with me. IMG_2778_Edit

I did not do this on purpose, but I think I might have a problem. I think I will call it Paris Envy. Maybe there’s something about the changing seasons, the feeling that anything is possible that seem to permeate the air along with the crispness that sets in, but my mind always starts to wander the globe this time of year. Feeling pretty anchored at the moment, I will just have to dream for awhile.

If you are experiencing Paris Envy as well, I am finding that it is slightly appeased with some of the aforementioned things.

The book, Time Was Soft There, was a gift from my fellow English majory brother, who knows what a bibliophile I am.  Not only is it a book, but it’s all about an iconic bookstore, run by a serious book lover, in Paris.  I don’t want to launch into a review.  I will just say that I really enjoyed it, and I’m a book snob.  It is light enough to enjoy for a cozy, rainy brain candy type read, but also rich/deep enough to make you think, reflect, muse and feel like you’re doing something that might be good for your brain.  Having kids, I really like to find this middle ground in a book.  It’s a lot harder now that I have kids to carve out the time to read (at all!) some of the thicker (page numbers and subjects) books I once enjoyed.  A Moveable Feast will have to wait. But if we’re going to go full on brain candy, I’d rather just veg in front of a Grey’s Anatomy marathon.  So this kept me from full on lobotomy in front of the t.v.  And transported me a little.

The pillow can be found in our Etsy shop, Peachtree Park.  I have always been a sucker for French script.  And who isn’t a sucker for chocolate.  And cozy pillows.  When I saw this fabric, I just had to create the combination.  Or again, maybe it’s just my Paris Envy.  And I will tell you a secret (I am feeling generous today!), in case you are so inclined to sew one of your own- this fabric is from the gorgeous Eclectic Elements collection by Tim Holtz.  You can find it at Hawthorne Threads, my favorite place to find fabulous fabric (I realize after re-reading this it sounds a lot like an ad, but the only affiliation that I have with them is I love their taste in fabric and buy it!).

The Carla Bruni Pandora station is a perfect taste of French songs and mood, perfect background music for a project, reading a book, hanging with friends or family, eating chocolate (hmm, that must be on my brain), or whatever you’re doing while indulging in your Paris Envy.

Sorry, you can’t have the girls though!

I think Paris Envy for me is also a great lesson in pleasuring the senses.  And I will just bask in that for now.  Maybe a little Paris Envy is good for my bien-etre (well-being)!

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Filed under Book, Etsy Finds, Fabric Finding, Food