Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Festive Fourth Flops

Time needed: 30 minutes
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 3 swatches of fabric in red, white and blue, felt, scissors, glue gun, flip flops
Note: The entire cost of this project was $4.25, and I had enough leftover fabric to make at least one more pair for just the cost of flips, which I got at Michael's for $1.

Directions: Cut 18 circles of the white fabric (I used the bottom of a soda can as a stencil), 18 circles of the red fabric (I used the bottom of a hairspray bottle as a stencil), and 18 circles of the blue fabric (I used the bottom of a nail polish bottle as a stencil) and get that glue gun heated up. Start with the white fabric. Lay down 2 circles to be the base of your white flowers. This pattern is very similar to the foursquare flower pattern, so take a look at that if you need more help. Instead of folding the circles in half, fold them in thirds and glue them down. This way, you'll have 6 poofy petals rather than four. After you do this to both base circles, you should have four circles left. Using two per flower, crinkle these and glue them to the middle to continue the poofy petal effect. Follow the same directions for the red and the blue fabrics. (If you wanted, you could mix the fabric colors for a multicolored flower or two.) Then, cut 6 squares of felt to fit the back of the flowers and glue them to the back of the flowers for some extra support on the backing. Take the large white flower and glue it to the thong of the flip flop. Place the red and blue flowers just to the side (or, what the heck, place them wherever you'd like as long as you think it's cute), being sure to glue them to the thong as well. Then, take a few strips of the felt and glue them to the back of the flower and around the backside of the thong to add some extra staying power. And there you go - cute summery flips that are going to be just perfect for your Fourth of July celebration! And, this technique is so cute, who needs those expensive flips you see at the store? You can make your own, feel just as cute, and be so proud of what you came up with. Woo hoo!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Guest Post - Deg's pulled pork

I may be the crafter/baker/mess maker in our house, but my hubby makes the most amazing pulled pork ever. And I'm being serious. I don't eat pork, and I love this stuff. (I know a few of you have had some, and you'll agree that it's pretty dang good.) So here's Deg with his pulled pork!

Time needed: 8 hours in the crock-pot, 10 minutes active prep time (5 at the start, 5 at the end
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: crock pot, creole seasoning (I prefer Tony Chachere's), 1 onion diced, 2 cans of diced tomatoes with chipotle peppers, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 5 lb Boston butt pork roast (or similar cut), preferably bone-in

Directions: Give the pork a full coating around the outside with the creole seasoning. Add the cinnamon on top. Put it in the crock pot with your onions and the 2 cans of tomatoes. Set the crock pot to low and let it do its thing for 8 hours. Pull the pork out at the end and shred up the meat with a couple of forks. Put it back into the saucy mixture, and serve. I prefer to put it on fried corn tortillas. The wifey likes to put it in a big salad (kind of like a Cafe Rio thing). Do what works for you, and be prepared to impress everyone.

Guest Post - Aleisha's placemat purse

My cute friend Aleisha made this fun purse and put it up on her blog. With her permission, I'm going to re-post her post here so you can try this out, too!

What to do on a June 8th day in Hurrican Utah? Make a cute little placemat purse with zipper and side wristlet handle!
Inspiration from vintage buttons and tin box from grandma and placemat on hand!
Items needed:
1 placemat
1 zipper as wide as the side of your placemat
length and width of webbing, cotton or nylon for strap/handle (I literally wrapped it around my wrist to measure what was comfortable to hold)
contrast fabric for strap/handle (at Wal-Mart I bought a fat-quarter for $1)
cute buttons for embellishments

Well now isn't this one of the cutest placemats you have ever seen? I bought it at K-Mart for $1.50 because I just knew it would make a cute purse.
I hand sewed the buttons on the center of the flowers using red thread. I have loved the red and turquoise combination since 5th grade. I used to think those were going to be my wedding colors:) Now I just use those colors together whenever I can.
The first thing you do is sew the zipper in. I am using my mother-in law's sewing machine, a singer 630. I had to look on the internet to learn how to thread it. It also has the knee peddle (read aaagh), not the foot peddle, thus, my lines are not as straight as they might normally be with my bernina. Folding the placemat in half, you are basically making a tube, sewing each of the shorter sides to the zipper.
At this point you could add a flat bottom by flipping the purse inside out and sewing a straight seam perpendicular across each bottom side of the purse. I decided against doing this because it interfered with my buttons on the outside of my purse.
Making sure you have unzipped your zipper half-way, sew up one side of your purse.
Make a tube of fabric to cover your webbing. You don't have to worry too much about the edges of the handle because they will be on the inside of your purse. Place handle on the right side of your purse (the side that will be the outside of your purse). Sew up that side of your purse. Flip it inside out, and voila! Cute, easy zipper clutch wristlet combo purse!

Summertime Stir-Fry

Time needed: 20 minutes (5-7 for the actual cooking time)
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 1 red bell pepper cut into strips, 1 green bell pepper cut into strips, 2 cups peas in the pod (I use sugar snap, but feel free to use snow peas), 1 zucchini peeled and chopped, 2 carrots peeled and cut into matchsticks, 1/2 onion cut into strips, 2 tablespoons oil (I do 1 1/2 of garlic flavored olive oil and 1/2 of sesame oil, but use what you have), 1 teaspoon soy sauce (it tastes great with regular or low sodium), 1 teaspoon grated ginger (note - get yourself a big ginger, peel it all up, and put the leftovers in the freezer. You can grate it up frozen and it lasts forever)

Directions: Chop up all your veggies that need to be chopped. Heat up your oil until it just starts to ripple (if you put your stuff in before it's heated, it'll be greasy and not so awesome). Grate in your ginger, mix around, and throw in all of your veggies. Stir-fry until the onion is tender, the peppers have softened, and the peas have turned a vibrant green. Eat alone, or serve over rice. If you want to add meat, go for it! I'd recommend chicken that's pre-cooked and that you throw in at the end of cooking just to heat through. I hope you enjoy it - we sure did, and it's a great way to use all of the yummy, fresh veggies available this time of year.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dissectable recipe - Cafe Rio(ish) chicken burritos

This is three recipes in one (one for the rice, one for the chicken, and one for the dressing), and you just feel free to dissect this and use it as you will. Also, there's no picture with this one because we ate it all before I even thought of my camera. Next time we make it, I'll snap a pretty one for ya!

Poached Mexican Chicken
Time needed: 10 minutes
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: pot, 1 cup chicken stock, 1 T cumin, 1 t garlic, 1 t cayenne pepper, 1 t lime juice, 1 t red pepper flakes, 4 chicken tenders or 2 chicken breasts

Dump everything in the pot except the chicken and bring to a boil. Once your mixture is boiling, stick in the chicken, and poach until cooked through. Flip the chicken halfway through to ensure even cooking. Once poached, take out and let cook a bit before shredding. Keep any extra poaching liquid to use next time you make this stuff. Feel free to adjust any seasonings according to your taste.

Jessica's Mexican Rice
Time needed: 10 minutes
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 1 cup water, 1 cup chicken stock, 2 cups instant rice, 1 t lime juice, 1 diced tomato (juices, seeds and all), 1 t cumin

Dump everything but the rice into a microwave safe container and mix (you're using half water and half chicken stock to add a bit more flavor). Then add your rice, microwave according to package directions, let all the water absorb, and there you go!

Knock-Off Cafe Rio Salad Dressing (adapted from Recipezaar)
Time needed: 5 minutes prep, plus overnight
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: 2 cups no fat mayo, 2 cups no fat sour cream (we're saving calories here, and you'll never know!), 12 sprigs cilantro, 3 tomatillos (they look like green tomatoes with a husk), 2 green onions, 2 cloves garlic, 1 jalapeno pepper (seeds, membrane and all), juice of 1 lime, 1-2 t salt, 1/4 t cumin (optional)

Chuck it all in a blender and blend until smooth. Be sure you roughly dice your tomatillos and jalapeno before you chuck them in the blender. It is essential you let this sit in the fridge overnight, because otherwise, you taste all the individual flavor components rather than the blend of them all. Trust me, it's so worth the wait. This makes so much dressing, but don't worry, it'll be gone in no time. You'll find all sorts of ways to use it. And, because we used no fat mayo and sour cream, we're way better off than with most dressings. This will last about 2 weeks in the fridge. Also, if you are scared of using the whole jalapeno, just use 2/3 of it and see how that goes for you.

So now that we know the directions for the components, let me tell you how I put it all together...
Cafe Rio(ish) chicken burritos
Time needed: 2-3 minutes
Level of difficulty: easy
Materials needed: poached Mexican chicken, Jessica's Mexican Rice, knock-off Cafe Rio salad dressing, 1 can black beans, 1 package flour tortillas, lettuce, shredded cheese (flavor/quantity to your taste)

Heat up your tortilla on the stovetop in a skillet just long enough to warm through. Pack as much of everything into your tortilla shell as you can, fold it up, and go in for the kill. Try not to die of flavor overload because then you won't be able to eat this again, and that would be sad.

But wait! you ask. What if I want to eat it as a Cafe Rio knock off salad? Go for it! I'm not stopping you! I love their salads, but I've found this works better as a burrito. But you do what you want - remember these are just skills you can take and use as you wish!