Monday, August 30, 2010


My fridge, counter, and bowls are packed to the brim with fruits and vegetables!  It's that oh-so-wonderful time of year!  I am seriously going to have to be creative to use all the stuff we have on hand before it goes bad!

I'd also like to thank my sister-in-law for introducing me to bountiful baskets.  For those of you that are in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Washington, check it out!  You won't be disappointed! 

This was our bountiful baskets haul from Saturday morning: in the bag are fresh green beans, sweet potatoes, plums [they are SO good], oranges, bananas, grapes, broccoli, tomatoes, nectarines [also delicious!], mangoes, celery and lettuce!  Not too shabby for $15, right?!

 We were not disappointed this week! Although, now I'm wondering if I should wait to order again until our garden is done producing!  It's insane the amount of stuff I need to eat, freeze, cook or bottle/can this week!
A *tiny* sampling of what we picked from the garden this week.  You'll notice the abundance of romas, jalapenos and onions: I made salsa yesterday! Most of the green and red peppers were used last week when I made jalapeno salsa...but holy snot, I have 10 million jalapenos still in my garden.  Anyone need some?!  I don't know what inspired me to plant TWO jalapeno plants this year! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cookie Bars/Cookie Pizza

Yesterday afternoon, my dudes and I were trying to figure out what kind of treat to make for our big "Back to School Family Night" last night.  It seemed like everyone wanted something different, and we were also limited to what I had on hand [to say I was in dire need of going grocery shopping would be an understatement!]. 

In the end, we decided to try a cookie bar.  Instead of baking it in a pan, we decided to go for a pizza pan, which the kids totally loved!  It didn't make it taste any different, but to them it was very cool. 

My husband didn't have high hopes for this.  He's very picky about his cookie/treats and LOVES the chocolate chip cookies I make.  However, I think we won him over.  After the kids were in bed last night, I kept catching him slicing off more.  Eventually he looked at me, with his hand full of cookie and said, "These are good!" 
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars/Cookie Pizza

  • 2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. chocolate chip [we used 1 c. mini m&m's and 1 c. milk chocolate chips]
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan, or a pizza pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar, stirring until smooth.  Stir in the vanilla.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Stir in the flour mixture, then the chocolate chips.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake the bars for 24-26 minutes, until their top is shiny and golden.  Don't overbake, or the bars will be dry; a cake tester inserted into the center WILL NOT come out clean.  Remove the bars from the oven and cool to room temperature before cutting.
Enjoy!  My little dudes loved these.  Maybe next time I will let them decorate the top! 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

reusable ziploc bag

I finally have this done.  It would have been up Friday, but I have been having serious issues getting pictures to post!

Reusable Ziplocs

You will need:

-fabric [cotton is great]
-ripstop nylon
-3/4 inch SEWABLE velcro [do NOT get the kind that is sticky on the back, trust me!]
-obvious things like a sewing machine, thread...
Big bag: 6.5" x 7"
Medium bag: 6.5" x 5.5"
Small/snack size bag: 6.5" x 3.5"

CUTTING DIMENSIONS: [For both fabric AND nylon]

Big bag: 14" x  8"
Medium bag: 11.5" x 8"
Small/snack size bag: 8" x 8"

*The measurements can easily be altered to suit the size that you need, feel free to change them up.  I am in the process of making some big [think gallon size] bags, these are just estimations---it isn't surgery, so don't stress over exactness!

7" --- if you change the measurements above, just alter your velcro accordingly.

This is the velcro you want!  See where it says "sew on"?!  That's really important!  You do not want velcro with adhesive on the back---this will break your needle and make you swear. 

Let's begin!  I took a lot of pictures, which is in NO way an indication of how hard this is.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  If you can push a gas pedal, you can totally make these! 

Begin by cutting your outer fabric and your nylon.  For the purposes of this tutorial, I am making the small/snack sized bag.  Also, at this point, measure and cut your velcro as well. 

Now, take your outside fabric and your nylon and pin them RIGHT SIDES together.  [This is the wrong side of my fabric.]

Me and my freaky ET fingers are showing you that I pinned the nylon on the back.  See, there it is. 

Using a 1/4" seam allowance [and remembering to back stitch to secure stitches], sew the short sides together.  Only sew 2 sides, not the whole thing!

Now, turn that bad boy so the right side is out [wrong sides now together]. 

Now, it's totally possible that once you turn it right side out, that the nylon will be all wonky like this.  No worries.

Enter super-long freaky fingers [yours will work fine if you don't have access to mine].  Just press down the seam as best you can.  Again, you don't really want to iron it, unless you want a hot-melty mess.  Just smash it down with your fingers.  Or, if you have those super long glittery  nails that are all the rage these days, use those!

I don't think I have a future as a hand model or a finger model.  Oh well.  Now, fold your bag in half and press down to get a nice line.  I do this both ways [long and short], to find the center of your bag.  This will help you to get your velcro centered.  You don't have to do this.  I'm just super anal about having things centered and straight and right and alphabetized and in order.

Center your velcro on the top [the sewn edge] and the bottom.  [Obviously, at this point, you've separated the velcro!]  Pin in place. 

See, top and bottom all pinned on.  [The top looks uneven, but the velcro just had a kink in it from storage.]

Stitch along the edge on the LONG sides only of the velcro, leave the short edges alone.  [I like to use a coordinating thread color---this helps things looks more "professional".]  Do this on both sides.  [So you will sew 4 long edges of the velcro.]

This is what it should look like at this point.

Now close it up, sealing the velcro together. 

Your velcro should meet up, and be even and centered.  Notice how the sides are still now sewen together.  We'll do that now.

Sew the outside edges together using a 1/4" seam---wrong sides together, with the right side of the fabric facing you.  This seems backwards, I know, but hang with me. [Remember to backstitch!]

Once you've done that on both sides, trim the excess fabric as close as you can to the seam---be careful not to cut the seam!

Now, unhook your velcro and turn it inside out [or right sides together].  Use something to help you get the corners nice and sharp.  I used my super favorite tool.  It's actually for paper, but I've never been able to find one at a sewing store that I liked.  I found this one at a craft store with the scrapbooking stuff, and I looooove it. 

See?  It's pretty awesome.  If you don't have one of these, use anything---a knitting needle, pen, whatev.

Totally don't know why I took this picture.  Maybe to show you the whole thing turned inside out??  I didn't realize this was such a complicated step.

Now, sew the sides with a 1/4" seam.  Again, don't forget that pesky backstitch.  Do this with both sides, obviously.

Now, turn it right side out.  Again, be sure to get the corners and edges straight and crisp.

And that's it!  You now have the worlds cutest and easy to make reusable ziploc baggie!! 

Feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have any questions or problems!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

busy, busy, busy!

I love when you can turn this:

into this with just a little work.  [...and the help of a wii, which you normally loathe, but it entertains two boy midgets so I can make a mess in the kitchen!]

Aren't they beautiful? I absolutely love the color of homemade raspberry jam!

Thanks to my mom for teaching me the beautiful art of canning things.  It seems like just yesterday that I used to roll my eyes at the things my mom did.  Certainly I wouldn't ever care about canning/bottling/gardening and even sewing!  That's positively archaic and so 1950's housewife.  I will not be demeaned like that!  Hear me roar.

Or so I thought.  I've learned that there is something very liberating in being able to do these things yourself.  "Damn the Man!" if you will.  If you look at it that way, it's very liberating and not at all barefoot and pregnant.  It's all your perspective, I suppose.

So.  Thanks Mom.  Thanks for being cool well before your time. Thanks for all re-teaching me all of the domestic skills that I refused to want to learn during my rebellious and slightly taboo youth.  I get it now. 

Other than making homemade raspberry jam [and working on jalapeno jelly later this week, and salsa, as soon as my tomatoes are ready...which should be next week...], I've been a freaking maniac behind the sewing machine.  [Another skill I mocked.  Again, I get it.]

So far this week:
Cases for our ipod touches.  I left a little room so the ear plugs and charging cords could fit inside as well.  I used a thin cotton batting to give them some protection, but not too much bulk.

Mine.  I freaking love this fabric.  I'm hoarding more if it, I just don't know what to do with it yet.  I also covered the button to match the fabric. 
My husbands.  He asked for fabric that was a little more manly.  Is this more manly?? [I also love this fabric.  I kind of want to marry Riley Blake.]  I also ditched the button and used touch tape on his. 

Just finished this pillow [made the case as well].  I just haven't bought a pillow form to put inside of it yet.  I LOVE this, it was super easy, and look awesome.  Probably better in person than in this picture.  I used wool felt [not the cheap kind] for the flower. 

Trick or treat bags for the midgets!  LOVE the fabric [Riley Blake again]!  These were a lot of fun to make.  The lining inside the bags matches the fabric on the handles.  You can't tell by the picture, but they have a "box pleat" bottom, so they stay open.  The kids are really excited about them. 

...And this, is why I haven't posted on this blog!  I'm going to work on making a step by step tutorial for the reusable ziploc bags later this week.  Just in time for back-to-school {*sniff*}. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tin Roof Ice Cream

There is no picture of this ice cream. 

You can thank my husband.  He ate it ALL before I had a chance to take a picture. 

He LOVES ice cream with nuts.  A little sweet, a little salty, a little chocolatey.  That's his "thing".  If I ever ask him what kind of ice cream he wants, he usually says, "something nutty", which usually translates to Tin Roof.

This is the first time I've EVER attempted to make this from scratch.

For the record: It's freaking amazing.  Way, way better than store bought.  It is a little labor intensive, but I think that is the fun part!  I love knowing that it's all from scratch. 

[Even my father-in-law, who has a love affair with ice cream, said this was better than store bought.]

Once again, thank you David Lebovitz!  If you haven't yet, I highly suggest buying or borrowing his book "The Perfect Scoop."  However, you won't be able to borrow it from my library, because I have it.  And I renewed it.  And I'll probably renew it again.  I WILL buy it, that's how much I love it.

Tin Roof Ice Cream
Recipe from David Lebovitz, "The Perfect Scoop"
  • 3/4 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. chocolate covered peanuts [recipe to follow]
  • fudge ripple
  1. Warm the milk, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan.  With a sharp paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them, along with the pod, to the hot milk mixture.  Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Rewarm the vanilla-infused mixture.  Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium  heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the m imxture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream to cool.  Remove the vanilla bean, wipe it clean of any egg bits, and it back to the custard.  Stir in the vanilla extract and stir until cool over and ice bath.  Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.  **My boys LOVED helping with all of this stuff. This is a great recipe to involve the littles with!!
  4. When ready to churn ice cream, remove the vanilla bean (it can be rinsed and reused).  Freeze the icem cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  While the ice cream is freezing, chop the peanuts into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Fold the peanut pieces into the frozen ice cream as you remove it from the machine, and layer it with fudge ripple. 
  6. **Don't MIX the fudge ripple into the ice cream, or you will muddle the ice cream.  Use a spoon to drizzle some, then layer ice cream, then drizzle more, etc.
**This recipe says it makes 1 1/4 qts.  I felt like it didn't, so next time I will 1 and half the recipe.
Chocolate Covered Peanuts
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate [I just used semi-sweet chocolate chips]
  • 1 c. spanish salted peanuts [with red skins----this is my preference, you can use any kind]
  1. Put the pieces of chocolate into a double boiler to melt.  Stir until smooth.  In the meantime, stretch a piece of plastic wrap over a dinner plate.
  2. Once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the peanuts, coating them with the chocolate.  Spread the mixture on the plastic lined plate and chill.  [I put mine in the freezer!]
Mixing them in:  Use a knife to chop the chocolate block of peanuts into bite-sized pieces, then mix them into 1 qt. of ice cream as you remove it from the machine.