Monday, May 24, 2010

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken

The other day, someone gave me a pineapple. It was a very delicious pineapple, by the way. Well, I decided to try out something with my pineapple in a savory setting, and the results are as follows:

Time needed: 20 minutes (give or take a few) to cook, 50 minutes total
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into cubes; 5 scallions, cut into thirds; 1/2 pineapple, cut into chunks (you can use canned, too);4 chicken tenders, diced and marinated (directions to follow); 2 cups rice, cooked (I use instant because I'm all about fast); soy sauce (I use low sodium in this recipe because in this application, there's no flavor compromise), teriyaki sauce

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Put your chicken in a bowl and douse with about 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of teriyaki sauce. Mix together and marinate at least half an hour. At the end of marination time (last 5 minutes or so), put your pineapple, pepper, and scallions in a greased baking dish and splash with another teaspoon of soy; mix and let marinate for 5 minutes. After everything is done marinating, put the chicken in with the pineapple mix, stir it all together, and pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes (or however long it takes to cook the chicken through). Serve over rice with soy sauce on the side, or use the juices from the cooking as a sauce. Yu-um! It makes great leftovers, too, by the way. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Per request, homemade bagels

I can't take the credit for this one. I totally siphoned it from Hubpages. So rather than put the recipe here and risk someone thinking it was my recipe or my idea, just click here to get the recipe. I'll post my tips and hints.

Here's the thing with bagels: they are so much better if you make them yourself. We are lucky if any smidgen of our batch is left by the end of the day. Plus, you get to control the salt/sugar/fat/preservatives added to your food. And, let's be honest, it's cool to say you made your own bagels. They take me just over an hour to do, and they're probably my favorite bread product to make because they are so yummy and so fast. So here are some of those recommendations:
  • Do you like cheese? When you get the bagel out of the boiling water, set it on a heaping pile of Asiago, Parmesan, and/or Romano cheese (I use all three because they came in a shake bottle). The cheese crusts on when you bake them, and oh baby are they just divine!
  • When you roll your bagels, you might run into the same problems I do: those ends just don't want to stick together. Well, then scrunch 'em! That's what I do on some of them. So they won't look like a perfect circle? Who cares? I think it makes them look cute and rustic, and besides, the scrunched finger marks disappear during the rising/boiling process.
  • I grease my baking sheet with cooking spray. Works just great and it's way easier than massaging oil into something.
  • When you let your dough rise on the counter, cover it with a damp towel. This recipe doesn't call for this, but the dough stays much more pliable and kneadable this way. I find if I don't use a towel, it gets all crusty.
  • Bagels sound hard to make. Like really hard. In real life, they are the easiest bread product (other than frozen rolls, and even that's arguable with the time commitment) I've ever made. Don't be scared - just try it!
  • Because there are no preservatives, any bagels that are not immediately consumed should be put in a plastic bag to keep air off them. They stay moist longer this way.
So what do you eat on a homemade bagel other than cream cheese? Well, here are some ideas:
  • Chicken salad
  • Homemade butter and homemade jam
  • Turkey club sandwich (splurge and buy the peppered turkey at the deli counter - you'll thank me later)
  • Breakfast egg sandwich
  • Dip the one with cheese in warm marinara sauce

Cheat Sheet - Homemade Rolls

So... rolls. You know they are a billion times better when they are homemade. But let's be honest: homemade rolls take forever. Plus, all those ingredients. Who can keep track of all of that? Well, let me help you get the best of both worlds: cheat sheet rolls.
Do yourself a favor: go buy a bag of bread mix. It's got the perfect mix of flour, sugar, salt, etc. And, if you're trying to eat healthier but still have that classic roll flavor, you can get yourself a half white half wheat mix. I personally use a Lehi Roller Mills mix, but use whatever you like or whatever you can find.

Follow the directions on the mix, but instead of rolling it into a loaf, cut it into rolls. Bake for about 5-10 minutes less than the package directions for a loaf, and you've got homemade rolls with less mess and less time than Grandma ever had to deal with, but it's not the boring, frozen or store bought stuff. And there are your cheat sheet rolls!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Essential Tools: Home Cook

Like the post that has come before, I have spent many an afternoon in front of the kitchenware section of my favorite store, looking at the latest and greatest gadgets and wondering what I need. After much pondering, here's my list of essential home cook gadgets. And again, I'd love to hear what you feel is essential, too! Keep in mind, this is the tools and not the pantry essentials.

1. A set of measuring cups and spoons
2. Wooden spoons
3. Spatulas
4. Assorted sizes of mixing bowls, skillets, and pots
5. Assorted baking sheets and trays
6. Collander or strainer
7. Blender or food processor
8. Hand mixer
9. Kitchen towels
10. Set of sharp, sturdy knives
11. Can opener
12. Grater
13. Assorted cutting boards (it's very helpful to have one for meats only and one for fruits/veggies)
14. Assorted tupperware (with lids that fit) and zip top bags

Essential Tools: Crafter

Every good crafter needs a good set of crafting tools. But from time to time, I've wondered, "What exactly do I need?" There are lots of things I could own, but do I really need them all? So below is a list of the tools I have come up with that are necessary for the everyday crafter. However, this is just my list. Let's start a comment thread: what do you feel is a necessary tool of the trade?

1. Fabric scissors (don't ever cut paper with these - it'll dull them)
2. Needles in assorted sizes
3. Pins
4. Threads of different purposes, strengths, and colors
5. Cardboard (I use old boxes for all sorts of things, from making a template to holding stuff in place)
6. Glue gun with plenty of glue sticks.
7. Fray Check, or similar no-fray product
8. Assorted fabrics, buttons, and beads (including felt)
9. Assorted pins and clips
10. Flathead and needle nose pliers
11. Fishing wire beading floss and stretchy beading floss

Go Green - Recycled Jeans Quilt

Time Needed: 4-5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate (though the patience level might be more advanced)
Materials Needed: approx. 10 pairs of adult sized jeans (or enough to cut 190 squares from), one 4"x4" cardboard square (used as a pattern - can be adjusted to your desired size), sewing machine, pins, fabric for the back, cut to match the size of the jeans sheet you'll be making, plus enough to line the edges by 1/2" on all four sides, quilt batting that is the same size as the jeans sheet
*Note - this particular quilt was made for a twin bed, which is 40" x 76". If you wanna make a bigger quilt, just get more jeans!

Cut all the jean squares out using the cardboard pattern square. I like to use the pockets because I think it's cute to have a jeans pocket on the blanket (you can see some of them in the picture). Don't worry if all your jeans are different colors and patters - that's part of what makes it cute and fun! This will take some time; after all, you are cutting out 190 squares! Be patient and don't do it all in one dose or your hands will start to ache like nobody's business.

Next, lay the squares out in your desired pattern. Your rectangle should be 10 squares by 19 squares. Pin them together in rows (don't pin the whole thing together or it'll be so heavy, you'll never be able to handle it). Sew together each of the pinned together strips (I recommend a zigzag stitch because it's super strong and jean is a heavy material). Once all of the strips are sewn together, start sewing the strips to one another. Once again, be patient. You've got lots of little squares to piece together. If you get sick of it, stop and come back to it. Be sure to be careful with your fabric - weighty jeans strips can break a sewing machine needle if they get too heavy!

At this point, you've got a really big sheet of jeans. From here, you could tie the quilt, but I personally think a jeans quilt, which looks a little country and home-y, looks hokey if you tie it. So here's what I did. I don't have a quilting machine, so I found a gal who does and I paid her to finish the quilt for me. Not all people with a machine are willing to work with a heavy jeans material, so don't be disheartened if you have to ask around. I figure it's easier and cuter to have a fun, cute pattern quilted in by someone else and to know I rocked on the sewing of the jeans. If you want to do it on your own or if you want to do a tied quilt with it, go for it - this is just what I've done.

*Variations: use different lengths and sizes of jeans materials for a fun, different look. Also, it's cute when a bunch of fabrics are quilted together with jeans interspersed. Do what you think you would like best and what works for you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Five Point Star Flower

Time Needed: 20 minutes
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Materials Needed: fabric, cut into 5 circles, each the same size (cut these to the diameter you'd like your flower to be), needle and thread, glue gun, beadFold all of your fabric circles in half and then in half again - you will now have triangles with a rounded edge. Take your needle and thread and sew a running stitch along the rounded edge of your triangles. Do this with all five pieces. When they are all on the same piece of thread, pull the thread taunt. This will pucker the fabric, bringing it in to look like a five-point star (as shown above). Tie off the thread and cut the excess off. You'll probably have a bit of a hole in the middle. I conquer this problem by gluing an extra piece of the same color fabric to the back of the flower so that the center is the same color. Glue your bead in the middle, and there you go!

* You might have noticed a bobby pin sticking out of this particular flower. I like to wear this alone on the side of a ponytail. I attach the bobby pin the same way I attached the clip in the previous post.

* Lots of people will do a six-point star and do two different colors of fabrics, which is also very cute.

And now... a picture!

The previous three posts have taught you about yo-yo flowers, frayed fabric roses, and foursquare flowers. I feel it would be helpful to illustrate these various beauties in action, so here are some, ahem, obviously professional shots of what I've been using them on lately:
The black flower in the back is a yo-yo flower, the black and white one to the right is a frayed fabric rose, and the white with blue accents one on the left is a foursquare flower. Now you know what they look like when put together! This particular combo of flowers is about the size of my palm (not including the feathers).

Wondering what's the deal with the feathers and how I'm planning on using that? Well then, be prepared for something not as cute...I glued the feathers to the black flower (I just thought they were cute - there's really no rhyme or reason) and then glued all of the feathers to a piece of felt. I then attached both a pin and a hair clip so I can use this as both. I glued both pieces down and then glued another piece of felt across them to keep them in place.

Let me show you one more thing...This one is much larger - it's probably about the size of both of my hands (I have small hands, but still...). You'll notice the white with blue accents and the blue flower are yo-yo flowers and that the brown one is a frayed fabric rose. The back looks a lot the same - the only difference is that I didn't put a hair clip on this one (that'd look odd on someone's cranium unless it was acting as a hat).

You can, of course, wear all these flowers on their own, attach them to purses, make them tiny and glue them to earring posts, and so on. Wear them where you want to wear them - it's your creation, so make it match your personality!

Foursquare Flower

Time Needed: 10
Level of Difficulty: easy
Materials Needed: fabric, cut into 5 circles, each the same size (cut these to the diameter you'd like your flower to be), Fray Check (or similar no-fray product), glue gun, bead
Line the edges of each of your fabric circles with Fray Check. Let this dry (you can work if it's wet, but it can get slightly sticky). Choose one of the five circles to be your base. Fold the rest in half and then in half again - you will now have a triangle with a rounded edge. Take one of these triangles and put a smidge of glue at the point. Stick the point in the center of the fabric (the disc should now be covered 1/4 of the way with your fabric triangle). Continue this process all the way around with your other three triangles. Sometimes, my triangles want to pop open, so I just put a smidge of glue on the inside fold to keep it closed. Once all the triangles are in place, glue the bead in the center, and there you go!

*Note - if you'd like, you can scallop the edges (as shown in this picture) or use other decorative borders to make them cute and fun.

Frayed Fabric Rose

(Thanks Aleisha for the tutorial I originated with over at her blog!)
Time Needed: 5
Level of Difficulty: easy
Materials Needed: fabric, cut into a strip that is 1 1/2 inches by 24 inches (you can adjust if you want a bigger or smaller flower), felt, glue gun, bead

Fold your fabric in half the lengthwise. Tack down one end somewhere so that the fabric is stationery and start twisting it. If you are using heavy fabric like wool or denim, just go ahead and start twisting - don't worry about the fold-over! Once the fabric is twisted, begin rolling it like a pinwheel. Roll until the rose is completed. Put a smear of glue on the felt and tack the flower down (this will keep it from unraveling - I've seen others do this with thread, but hey, I'm lazy). Cut the felt so that it cannot be seen from the front. Glue the bead in the center. Voila - a pretty rose for you!

Yo-Yo Flower

Time Needed: 5 minutes
Level of Difficulty: easy
Materials Needed: fabric (your choice, cut into a circle 2x the size of the flower you want), needle and thread, bead (for the center)

Cut out your fabric circle. You will begin sewing a regular running stitch all along the edge of the fabric. Once you have sewn all the way around the fabric, pull the string taunt. The fabric should pucker and pull in to make a sort of yo-yo shape. Knot the thread and cut the string. Glue the bead in the center. Yay - now you have a pretty yo-yo flower!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Intro to Create-A-Torium

I love crafting and creating and, well, making a mess of my whole house while doing so. One day, the Mister asked me if I'd ever thought of putting it all online so I could share my ideas and create kind of a forum where fellow craftie and creative people could bounce ideas. So I figured, why not? And that is why we are here. I will be sharing all sorts of different ideas, from baking and sewing, to beading and gluing, to, well, we'll see what comes up! I'll also be teaching you techniques you can use on all sorts of projects - I want you to take them and make them your own. And, if things go according to plan, other crafter/creators will be featured, too, so you can go check their stuff out and see how neat their ideas are. So let's get started! Yay creating!