Sunday, February 13, 2011

Crochet Hat-o-Rama!

I've been on a crocheting frenzy lately, making crochet caps and hats. Having a lot of down time lately, it's a great way to keep my hands busy, stay productive and make gifts for friends and family. Here's my latest projects, thanks to my lovely model and daughter, Maddie...many of these hats were made for her cousins as gifts, a few are hers :) Below the pictures are instruction on making them...they're very easy, even the flowers come together in a snap.

All of these are made from a basic pattern I made up...start by chaining 60 (average large child to adult size, you can make it smaller or larger by adding or decreasing chains). Connect the chains with a slipstitch. * Chain three and begin double crocheting into each chain, until you get to your beginning. Slipstich to fasten and repeat * until hat is about 5 to 7 rows high (depending how how large you want it). On your next row, begin decreasing your hat by doing * four double crochets, skipping one, double crochet, skipping one, four double crochets, repeating * till the end of row. Next row, decrease by crocheting three double crochets, skip one, double crochet, skip one, etc. Following row, decrease by crocheting two double crochets, skip one, double crochet, skip one, etc. Last row, double crochet every other stitch, fasten off at end. You can add a puffy ball or any other type of design.

To make flowers, there are great tutorials out there..I like this one.

So that's what I've been up to..I'll warn ya though, this can be addicting! The caps go quite fast, so it's a craft you won't get tired of doing, which I like. You can leave them plain, add on ear warmers, sew on flowers (or as a friend does, hot glue accessories like beads, flowers, ribbon, buttons, found at Walmart and similar stores). They're really popular right now and so cheap to make! Try em out sometime :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spice rubbed and BBQ chicken w/ Twice Baked Potatoes

Superbowl's here! I have a confession- I don't like football or know anything about it, really. But what DO know is that people like to eat yummy food during the Superbowl, and I'm down for that! No big parties here, just a simple family affair...wanted to make some easy, delicious grub for the main event.

I had two large chickens in the fridge and quartered them up (for a good chicken quartering tutorial, click here for a great tutorial. Now let's get cooking!

I wanted an easy dry spice rub for half my chicken and also wanted to make my own barbecue sauce for the other half...which, let me tell ya, there are TONS of bbq recipes out there. Some are very intricate, taking days to cook...others are quite simple and consist of a ketchup base. This recipe was simple but spicy, just a little kick and turned into a beautiful glaze. One of my pet peeves with many barbecue sauces is them turning out too gooey, thick or sweet. This one is pleasantly thin, leaving a flavorful kick to the chicken without making it too gunky.

Barbecue Sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chili sauce (recipe below if not using store bought)
1/2 cup rum
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp dry ground mustard
ground black pepper to taste

Chili Sauce

1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 dash salt
1 pinch red pepper flake or hot pepper

Add chili sauce to the rest of ingredients and simmer 30-45 minutes, until some liquid is reduced. Spoon over cooked will cool as a nice glaze..but if you prefer, spoon over baked chicken and put back in oven for another 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Spice Rub

2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested

Rub blended spices all over raw chicken and continue cooking as normal.

this savory and spicy barbecue sauce simmered while I let my chicken bake

this raw chicken has been rubbed down with spices and ready to be baked

barbecue glazed and spice-rubbed chicken ready for the masses

Twice Baked Potatoes

These are delicious! While your chicken is cooking, throw some clean, dry potatoes...I bake them at 350 for about an hour. When cooled, slice them in half, scoop out the insides and mix the following:

cooked potato flesh
8 slices bacon
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
8 green onions, sliced, divided

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet...cook until brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
To the potato flesh add sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 the green onions. Mix with a hand mixer until well blended and creamy. Spoon the mixture into the potato skins. Top each with remaining cheese, green onions and bacon.
Bake for another 15 minutes.

these twice baked potatoes are packed with flavor!

Apple Crisp

This is the easiest, tastiest recipe I've ever found...literally put together in a few minutes. The ginger is a perfect mate for the sweet apples, adding just a little zing. I doubled the crusty topping, since my family likes a thick crust on top of their fruit crisp. A great way to use up those apples around the house..I've substituted lots of different fruits for this..canned pears, fresh blueberries, even strawberries and peaches! Such a simple recipe.


6 cups diced apples (or your fruit of choice)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp flour


1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

peel and chop your favorite apples..I used Fuji here

I used Sunmaid mixed extra-large raisins..added a sweet pop of flavor

spices, flour and brown sugar are all that's needed to compliment sweet apples

Mix filling together in bowl, put in a 13x9 greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 min. While filling bakes, put together topping....

Mix dry ingredients well. Cut in cold butter until you get pea-sized crumbs (I like to use my hands, so you get big chunks). Sprinkle over hot filling and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until browned. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream for a special treat!

all baked up and ready to eat!

I'm back, baby!

It's so good to be back! Did ya miss me? After three long months of enduring a strong and rare fungal infection, I'm finally getting my groove back. Many of you know I have chronic kidney failure and am currently on dialysis, awaiting a kidney transplant. Due to my health issues, I'm susceptible to getting infections...and boy, did I get a doozy. I'm still on IV infusions for antibiotics every day, but am much, much better.

So many times I wanted to check back on my blog, but I knew I wasn't coming back until I could really commit to it. Doesn't mean I quit cooking and fact, all the time sitting in hospitals and dialysis chairs means I've had lots of time to catch up on my crocheting and crafting! I'll be posting pictures soon of some of my creations.

I hope all my online friends haven't forgotten about my little blog...stop by and check out my news when you can! For now I'll be updating as much as I can and keep working on getting my mojo back :)