Sunday, December 9, 2012

Potato Latkes

Happy Hanukkah! Saturday was the first night of the eight days and since we have several merging cultures in our household, we celebrated the start of the holiday season by making traditional potato latkes.  If you don't know what they are, they are also known as potato pancakes.  Quite yummy, but probably not so healthy because they are fried.

Recipe adapted from My Very Own Hanukkah Box


  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

  • frying oil (NOT olive oil)  (the recipe said do not use olive oil, but when I was researching Hanukkah on Wikipedia  it said that you should preferably use olive oil,... so who knows really)
  • lots of paper towels

1. Peel potatoes.  Rinse in cold water
2.Grate potatoes.  I used my kitchen aid... it made it so much easier then grating it all by hand!
3. Peel onion and grate into the potato.
4. Put potato and onion in colander.  Press down and remove as much liquid as possible.  Pat down with paper towels and put back into a dry bowl.  ( We got a couple cups of liquid out of ours)
5. Beat eggs, then  mix well into the potato with the flour, salt and pepper.
6. Pour a little oil into the frying pan. When hot add a heaping spoonful of the potato mix, pressing it flat with spatula.  Don't overcrowd the pan with too many pancakes.
7.Once edges are browned, turn over and fry on other side.  Both sides should be golden brown and crispy.
8.Have a plate ready with paper towels and place latkes there to drain oil.

Best served hot.

 Traditionally eaten with applesauce.  Other toppings that we use are sour cream, mustard or ketchup.  I tried googling additional topping ideas and there were some pretty creative ideas out there, but I like to keep it simple.

Light the menorah, play some dreidel, eat some chocolate gelt and have a happy eight days of Hanukkah!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Drunken Noodles

Have I mentioned how much I love Thai food?  No, well, then let me tell you, I love Thai food.  One of my favorite Thai dishes is Drunken Noodles.   Not to long ago, I was out to eat and was enjoying how delicious my meal was when I thought how great it would be if I could make it at home.

So I searched Pinterest, of course, and found this recipe.  It has a few obscure ingredients (like 3 different types of soy sauce) but if you go to your local Asian market, you should be able to find them.  And the great thing about shopping at Asian markets is that they are so cheap. I recommend buying any Asian ingredients at your local Asian grocery even if they have the item at your regular grocery store, because it will be twice as big and a quarter of the price.

So the first step to making this recipe is soaking the noodles ahead of time in warm water for about an hour.  Then I put them in boiling water for 45-50 seconds.  That's what the package recommends for soup.  For stir fry it recommends that you can just stir fry in oil for a few minutes (which is what I do with Pad Thai).  I wasn't sure which category the drunken noodles fell into so I boiled them, and it seemed to come out the texture I wanted.  But you can choose which you think works better.

Cut up the veggies.  I love how pretty they are... such vibrant and contrasting colors.

So one of the key ingredients is the Thai Basil.  This is different then regular Basil.  If you have no other option you can use regular Basil but it's not quite the same.  So if you are able to get it, take the extra trip to get the good stuff. It's totally worth it!

The other key ingredient is Thai Chili peppers.  You totally don't need that many to make it hot.  I halved the total recipe  and only had 4 Thai Chilies and it was totally hot enough.  Though that is totally dependent on your level of tolerance for hotness.  For this recipe to taste really genuine, it really needs to have a kick to it.   And look at all that garlic... Mmm, yummy!

Look at all that yummy goodness. It was totally delicious and tasted like a dish from a true Thai restaurant.  I love to go out to eat, but sometimes it's nice to be able to get the same food at only a fraction of the price.  

 If you want to try the recipe yourself:  Drunken Noodles from Epicurious.

Note:  I followed the recipe and used chicken the first time.  It turned out exactly right.  The next time I made the recipe, I used tofu.  Unfortunately the tofu didn't soak up the hotness the same way the chicken did, so it was a lot less flavorful.  I still would like to figure out how to make it with tofu so that I can add it to my meatless dish collection.  I'll update you when I figure out how to successfully do that.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood - The Cape

My favorite part of my little girl's costume this year was the cape.  I loved the color on her and the fun contrasting color peaking out from under the hood.  Here's a short little how-to on making the cape. 

I'm sorry if this is confusing.  I try to take pictures of each step but when I go to post, I realize that I should've taken even more photos.  There are all sorts of little steps that you don't notice until you go to write it up.  Ah well.   You live and learn.

It started by measuring how long I wanted it to be on her.  I folded the fabric in half so that I could get the max amount possible from my fabric.  I needed the total width to be 40 inches, while the height needed to be at least 20. 

I marked the midpoint of my fabric width (20 inches).  From there, I held my measuring tape at this point and slowly moved it around the circle marking litlte dots every quarter inch or so.  I then connected the dots and cut out my half circle.  The circle has a radius of 20 and a diameter of 40. 

Next I marked a line 5 inches from my midpoint.  I then marked the midpoint of that diameter and measured out a half circle with a 2.5 inch radius.  I cut that out creating a neckhole. 

If you look at the picture the right side is smaller than the left side.  While it's still folded, cut down the fold on the right side. This will be your front opening. Having the right side smaller makes it so the length is longest in the back but gradually becomes shorter in front. 

I then took a jacket of my daughters that fit her well and  on paper traced around the hood portion adding in seam allowances. I used this as my pattern and cut out two pieces of each fabric as shown below.

I then sewed each color set together creating two hoods. 

Next I sewed the front of the hoods right sides together.  When turned inside out, the hood piece will like the picture below.  Lastly, I put the lining inside the red fabric. My result is one red hood with a patterned lining. 

Next I matched the middle of the hood with the middle of the cape piece.  I sewed the red sides together so that when you put the hood up the back has a nice finished seam.  At this point, the inside has the raw edges.

 I then created two very long tubes with one end sewed closed.  It took forever to turn those stupid things inside out.

Before attatching the ties, I hemmed the two front sides of the cape. After ironing the ties,  I lined up the two open ends of the tube with the middle of the cape and hood. I turned under the ends so that they would not have any raw edges.   I placed them over where the hood and cape come together, covering the raw edges of the seam.  I pinned them on, and when I reached the end of the hood, I had to turn the raw edges of the cape under.  I then topstitched the tie onto the cape and then continued my topstitch all the way around the tie attatching it also to the hood. 

I then handstitched the openings of the tubes closed. 

I finished it off by hemming the bottom. 

And tada!  I now have a cute little cape for the Little Riding Hood Costume.

If you missed it, check out my post of us in our costumes.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Meatless Dish: Hearty Rice Skillet

So by now, most of my friends know about my quest to lower my cholesterol. Because of this, every now and again, people send me recipes that they think I might like.  One friend recently forwarded me this recipe to try. (Thanks Morgan!) 

  One thing that I really like about this recipe is how easy it is.  It's literally things that you most likely already have on hand.  Makes it a good meal to throw together at the last minute or if you are running low on fresh ingredients.  It's a combination of different canned ingredients, frozen veggies and rice.  Totally easy peasy! 

When I made it the first time, I failed to notice that it called for quick cooking rice, so I had to cook it way longer, leaving me with undercooked rice and overcooked veggies.  I don't usually have quick cooking rice on hand, so the next time I just prepared the rice in my rice cooker separately and then added it in near the end.  It seemed to work fine.

The best part is the melted cheese on top.  The cheese is one thing I miss with this new diet.  Oooey goey melty cheese... mmmm.... anyways, I enjoy a meal that still lets me enjoy my cheese.  It's not a large amount of cheese, so it's still pretty good for you, but it just adds enough to make it oh so yummy.

Hot sauce is an optional ingredient according to the recipe, but I don't think it should be optional.   Don't be tempted to skip out on it because you don't like things too hot.  Just add to taste, because the hot sauce is what really gives this dish it's flavor.

It also calls for almonds, but I just skipped those because they didn't seem that necessary.

Try the recipe for youself: Hearty Rice Skillet by Better Homes and Gardens.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma and the Woodsman

Sorry for the long absence from blogging.  My computer was in the shop. It was a bad electronics week for me. I killed my phone and my GPS by spilling water in my purse and on top of that our laptop cracked open.  So for a week and a half I was disconnected from the world with only a little I-touch that I could check my email on.

I did get my computer back right before Thanksgiving, but I've been caught up in a few good books that I couldn't put down, so I decided to relax over the holiday and finish them before returning to the blogging world.

I know it's almost the end of November which is a little late for a Halloween post, but I still wanted to share the costume that I made for my little girl.  I had so much fun making it and it was fun dressing up as a family.

It rained and poured on Halloween  so we went trick or treating at a couple different churches that had set up inside.   Our church had a carnival with games and food while my in-laws church did an inside trunk or treat....or more like table or treat.  It was nice that we got to enjoy the evening even with it raining down buckets.

I spent most of my energy making the Little Red Riding Hood costume.  My favorite part was making the cape.  I especially loved seeing my little girl in it, maybe I'm just biased, but I thought she looked pretty darn cute.  I also made her a little skirt to match.  I looked everywhere for just a plain white shirt to go with it, but all I found was a boys shirt, so I made do and sewed some lace around the collar to make it look a little more girly.

As for my husbands and my costumes, I tried to use what I had around the house. I wanted to spend as little effort as possible on our costumes partly because I was running out of time, and partly because I didn't want to waste a lot of time making something that we'd never wear again.

 I did sew my nightcap though.   I searched around looking for the easiest way to go about it using what I had and ended up making it from a tutorial on making a picnic bowl cover.  A little weird I know, but it it worked well, and it ended up looking just as I had imagined.  Here's the tutorial: Salad Bowl Cover by Make it Do.  I made the ruffle longer and gathered it before attaching it so that it would be more ruffly then the tutorial but otherwise I did everything else the same.

So for my grandma costume I wore the nightcap I sewed, used a white baby blanket as a shawl and actually used a dress that my mother had sewed for herself when I was a child.  Somehow the flower print felt a little grandmotherly to me.  I  also bought a white long sleeved shirt which I wore under the dress.

My husband used a hat that he got in New Zealand, it's a little more farmerish then woodsman but it worked well enough.  He wore a flannel shirt with some work pants and actually carried a knife strapped to his belt.  I think the woodsman actually carries an ax but the knife has a cool wolf on the handle which fit in with the theme.  I thought that it might be a little weird that he was carrying a real weapon around little kids, but no one seemed to care.

At first my little girl didn't quite understand what we were doing, but once she ate a piece or two of candy she realized what was going on, and really got into going to each table collecting candy in her little basket.  Overall, it was quite a fun evening.

A few days later I took her outside for a little photo shoot since I didn't get very many good pictures on the actual night.  I tried to take a bunch of pictures in our back patio, but that didn't go very well.  She had just gotten up from a nap and usually she's pretty happy but not this day.  You can't tell but just minutes before these pictures she had been crying.

I was able to get a few okay shots without tears when I started bribing her with chocolate. But it wasn't until we left the backyard to wander the complex did she start to smile.  She loves to walk and be outside.

I think my little girl's favorite part about the costume was the fact that she got to carry a basket.

She had fun carrying it around and putting things in it.

I think she made the cutest Little Red Riding Hood.  It turned out just as I pictured.

My husband thought the skirt would be cute with straps to make it look like more of a real dress.  I didn't know if I was going to have time so I did them at the last minute.  They do look cute, but if you look up close you can tell that I didn't do a very good job.  I either will have to redo them, or I may just take them off so that it can be just a skirt.

As we were walking around the complex we ran into some of the kids that live in the neighborhood.  Two of the girls decided that it was their job to look after my girl.  They had fun walking hand in hand and helping her out even though they are only 5 and 6.   My little girl loves hanging out with older kids so she was more then happy go along with it.

I'm not big into Halloween but it was still a lot of fun making the costume and seeing how cute my little girl was.  It was also nice to do something as a family... and collecting a little chocolate was an added bonus.  :)

In the next week I hope to get up posts on the cape and the skirt, so look out for those!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Crafty Time: Clean/Dirty Magnet

So ever go to put dishes in the dishwasher and don't know if they are clean or dirty?  Or you've started to unload dishes and half way through, you realize you just put away dirty dishes?   I've done that too many times, so finally I decided to make my own clean/dirty magnet.

It's such an easy craft and totally worth the whole ten minutes it takes to make.

I used just your typical frozen juice top. Using cardstock paper, I used the juice top to trace my circle shape. I cut out shapes and used letter stickers for the words and then used a little bling to make it a little fun. Next, I used a 3 dimensional sticker on the indented side of the juice top, and then glued the circle to it. You could use anything thick enough to raise the circle above the top of the lip of the juice top. Stick a magnet on the back and that's it! Now I'll always be able to tell whether or not I have clean or dirty dishes. :)

The only downfall to this project is that the dishwasher is still in reach of little hands. My little girl has pulled it down several times and managed to take it apart, so I had to hot glue it back together.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas Stockings

So I wanted to make Christmas stockings for our family last year. I unfortunately decided to take on the project way to close to Christmas, so chose to wait until after Christmas to start my project. I figured that way all the Christmas fabric would be on sale too.

Because this was a project from last year, the photos are really old before I started learning how to take better photos so excuse the rug in the background and the dark light. I thought that this was a perfect time to put this post up though because it's already November, and so that you can avoid my mistake of starting to late.

It was a pretty easy project to do and I had a lot of fun picking out fun different Christmas fabrics. It was my first time doing applique so that was a little challenging at first, but there's lots of information out there on the internet that helped me.

I love how they came out and am so excited that we now have personalized stockings for our family. Before, we had some random stockings that each of us had picked up somewhere over the years. Now that we are a family I think it's nice to have ones that go together. I also picked out coordinating fabrics instead of matching fabrics that way if there is ever any little additions to our family it will be easy to make more.

If you want to make your own stockings, I used the Christmas Stocking Tutorial from Sew Like My Mom.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Barbecued Corn on the Cob

One of my absolute favorite things about the summer season is barbecued corn.  I love, love it.  I will crave it all year until barbecue season.  And when I finally get to have it, it's just so heavenly delicious.

And yes, I know, this barbecue season is pretty much over every where.  But out here, the weather has been so fickle.  It rains one week and then the next week it's in the 80's.  So I've been trying to make the  barbecue corn season last as long as I can.

Ingredients you'll need:

  • butter (or some sort of butter like substance :) )
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • husked corn
  • tin foil

(you could add salt too if you want, but I think it's flavorful enough without it)

 Slather the corn in butter. Sprinkle with pepper and garlic powder.

Wrap tightly in tin foil.

 Put the corn on barbecue.  Grill on medium heat with lid on.  Cook for about a half an hour turning it 90 degrees every five minutes to make sure it's evenly cooked on all sides.

Enjoy the steaming hot corn fresh off the grill.  Mmmmm... delicious!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Apple Picking

One of my friends recently moved here from the east coast and has been searching to find a place to pick apples.  I recently finally found a place nearby and suggested we check it out.

There were lots of wonderful apple trees.  There were plenty of apples in the trees, but it was perfect for our little kids because there were just as many good apples on the ground as there were in the trees.
They only had a couple of different kinds of apples on the trees that you were able to pick, but they had plenty of different kinds of apples in bins.  After we picked our apples, I selected a few granny smiths since they are the best for pies.

It was a lovely day to go on a little outing.  It was perfect weather, nice and sunny yet not too hot.  We got lucky especially since the weather has been so temperamental around here lately.  The weather can't seem to make up it's mind which season it's in.

All the apples on the ground were perfect for the little ones. They had fun picking all the apples up off the ground. Though, even with all the great apples on the ground, somehow my little girl always found the ones that were the most rotten.

I don't know if she really knew what these apple things were that we were picking. But they sure looked like fun. The other half of the fun was just being able to run around in the fresh air.

The only problem was that the kids kept taking all the apples out of our buckets and throwing them on the ground. Or they would put all the rotten apples in the bucket and we would have to pick them out. So finally we got them their own buckets that they could fill and dump out to their hearts content.

It was a lot of fun, and a great activity. It was nice to bask in the sun, pick apples and share good times with friends.

But now, I have nine lbs of apples...Whatever shall I do with them?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baby Drawstring Pants

Finally getting up the tutorial for these baby drawstring pants. There are two options of these pants - with or without a different colored waistband. To see a version without the different colored waistband check out my Baby Boy Gift Set: Cars and Trucks.

First step is to make your pattern. Take a pair of pants that you already own and that are the size you want to use as your guide. Fold in half toward the front and trace around. This will be your back piece. Be sure to stretch out the elastic waistband to make sure to take in account for the extra material. Also don't forget to add seam allowances. Also add a bit extra on top so you have enough to fold under the waistband. (Better to have too much and trim it later then to have to little) Then fold in half toward the back and repeat. This will be your front pattern piece. Notice in the below picture how the back piece is slightly sloped out more then the front piece... this helps the pants have room for the baby's little booty. :)

Cut out your pattern pieces.

If you don't want a separate waistband piece skip the next couple of steps and just do the following:
Take your fabric and fold it in half. Pin and cut out so that you get 2 of each piece.

Sorry that I don't have any pictures of this step.
If you want a separate waistband then do this step:
Make your waistband pattern pieces by using the pattern you have just made as a guide and trace around the top. Draw down the sides about 2 to 3 inches (depending on how big you want your waistband. Keep in mind that you will be folding this piece in half so your waistband will be half as big as you make it minus seam allowances.
After you have traced around the pattern pieces, remove the outside seam allowance. You aren't going to need the extra seam allowance because this piece will be cut on the fold.

Cut out your pattern pieces and then cut out 1 of each waistband piece on the fold.
For your pants pieces..fold down your pattern to a bit above where you drew your waistband line. ( remember the seam allowance). Fold your fabric in half then pin and cut so you get 2 of each piece.
Hopefully that didn't completely confuse you. That was the hardest part.

Put the sloped edges of the front leg pieces right sides together. Sew and then finish your edge how you like - zig zag, overcast, or surge.
Repeat with the back leg pieces. (use a fabric pencil to mark which one is the front and which is the back because they start to look the same.)
You will now have two pieces that are starting to look like pants.
Take the waistband pieces and put together right sides together with the top edges of the pants. See the picture below.

Find a button that is about the width of your bias tape to use as your guide. Before sewing your button holes, do a practice button hole to make sure the hole is big enough for your drawstring to go through.
Now you want to mark with a fabric pencil two button holes equally spaced from the middle. ( I did them each about 3/4 inch from the center). You want them close to your waistband seam, but with enough room for topstitching the waistband down later.
Sew your button holes.

Take your two pants pieces and put right sides together. Make sure the waistband pieces are lined up ( I forgot to check and so they aren't the same front and back).
Sew down the sides and finish your edges how you like.

Pin together and sew inside legs. Finish edges.

Measure your elastic to be the width of the pants you used to make your pattern off of. Or in my case, I measured it to the width of the onesie I was pairing it with. Add an extra inch to your measurement and cut your elastic. Take two pieces of double fold bias tape, each approximately the same length and sew one piece to each end. See picture for example. I edge stitched the bias tape to keep the sides together and to give it a cleaner look, but you don't have to do that if you don't want to.

Fold down your waistband 1/4 inch and then fold in half. Pin and topstitch the waistband down. Make sure that you pin it so that when you topstitch it that you'll catch the edge that you folded under. Don't worry about leaving a hole to get the elastic through because you can just feed it through the drawstring holes.

Next you want to feel where the edge of the elastic is and pin it to the edge of one side seam. Find the other end and pull to pin to the other edge of the other side seam. Sew the elastic in place on each side. The picture below shows what it will end up looking like. You will have the back gathered and the front straight.This gives you more flexibility in fit because you can pull your strings as loose or as tight as you want it.

Hem the bottom of your pants and you're done!

Applique on a design on a onesie to make it an outfit.

If you make your own baby drawstring pants, I would love to see them. Post to the   Creations from Alisha Rose and Friends flickr group.

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