Monday, January 28, 2013

Today's Crochet Project

Free Pattern - Penguin Hat

Made this for my oldest daughter who wanted something that was not too kiddie.  I found a great pattern on a blog from a great crocheter.  She always posts such cute patterns and such easy to follow instructions.  Bonus--they are FREE!  The pictures on the site are also really informative, they are not just pictures of the finished product.  I love the pictures that show exactly where to start and finish rows something I always questions, fantastic!

I added the bow and changed the pattern slightly, I added 3 extra stitches to the row and used sc.  I also sc around the entire bow then did a slip stitch around the bow to finish off.

Used vintage buttons from my Mom for the eyes.  They have a faceted front instead of holes to attach.  They are attached with regular thread and look so much more realistic, I really love these buttons!  I think I may start hitting the local second chance shops and yard sales for old button and clothes with buttons.  They add so much character to the final project over new buttons.

Budget Gourmet Dinner

Budget Gourmet Spanish Kale Soup

This recipe yields a soup that tastes as good as my bowl from my favorite Spanish restaurant but I can stay warm in the house instead of venturing out in subzero temps.  If you like to bake and have the time I usually add a nice loaf of crusty bread to my dinner.  But you can easily buy that at the store slice and heat in the oven, so good dipped in the soup.  One this I always make with this soup is my homemade Sangria and by using seasonal fruit it is super affordable and tastes really authentic.  In the summer right through the winter and into Spring again Kale flourishes so if you have room plant a couple plants (believe that is all you need) and take advantage of this veggie.  It is the easiest thing to grow and you can use it in a ton of different ways.

2 cans chicken broth (or 4 cups homemade)
Ham hock
1 Bag or bunch of Kale
1 28oz can diced tomatoes (in summer I would use fresh diced)
1 can cannellini beans
2 medium yellow onions diced
3 lbs potatoes diced
2 tbs Spanish paprika
Salt and pepper

First thing is to cook the ham hock for about 1 hr in the chicken broth.  This gives such a great depth of flavor over just cooking in water.  Simmer the ham hock until the meat falls off the bone.  Then cool the hock in a bowl until ready to use.  I like a really smokey ham hock for this recipe to help add flavor.  We also do this recipe with dried Spanish chorizo (but that is not a budget recipe).

Fry the onions over medium for about 2 minutes just until translucent, turn to low add garlic and saute for another minute.  I turn it to low because I do not want the garlic to brown.  If the garlic browns it tends to get bitter and really impacts the overall flavor.

 Dice potatoes into small 1 inch or 1/2 inch pieces.  I like a nice waxy potato (a new potato or a Yukon gold work best)  they tend to hold up better after cooking.

Turn heat to medium low, cover and cook for 10 minutes

Add paprika, salt and pepper and cook for another minute

 Dice the ham taken off the bone and add to pot.

Add kale at one time or in batches until you've gotten the whole bag in the pot.  It looks like it would be way too much but it cooks down to nothing so be sure to just add then wait a minute til the kale wilts and add more.  This is kale soup after all, you want kale to be the main ingredient.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Looks like too much kale, but just keep adding it until the bag is empty, trust me it will never be too much!

Add beans and simmer to 10 minutes more.  Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper and serve.  Yum!

The kids love this soup and it has such great nutritional value.  They will eat two bowls of this every time I make it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Today's Crochet Project

Free Pattern - Rolled-Brim Hat

Created this hat using my own pattern for the top and then added a rolled brim from another hat I found online. 

This is my pattern for the hat then you can go to the rolled brim pattern and use rows 13 - 26 for the rest

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Today's Crochet Project

Long Eared Puppy Hat

My son and daughter both loved this hat.  Guess I will need to make a girlie one for my daughter.  This is my own pattern I designed.   

This took about 2 hours tops, I love projects workup that fast!

I used Vanna's Choice yarn for main hat and a skein of $1 yarn from AC Moore for the ears.

Trying to layout the ears was fun, I actually ended up putting it on my son's head and attaching them.  Should have taken a picture of that, not enough hands....

Button eyes were just extra buttons from an old shirt I found in my drawer when I was looking for something else.  That is always the way it happens can't find anything when I am looking for it!

He kept saying "I look adorable", needless to say his Dad was just so proud of that statement.  I told him not too worry I'll make him a skull hat next to toughen him up.

My daughter was so bummed she couldn't have the hat.  Come on I've already made her about 50 different girlie hats, now I need to come up with a girlie dog on top of it!

Budget Gourmet Dinner

Budget Gourmet Osso Bucco Red Wine Chili


2 tbsp olive oil
1 orange pepper
1 red pepper
1 jalapeno (fresh is best but canned works too)
5 garlic cloves
1 yellow onion chopped
4 slices of bacon
1 lbs chopped flat steak
1 lb ground chuck (this helps to add flavor from the great fat content)
2 tbs chili powder
1 dried chipotle pepper (or 1 tsp grown chipotle/ 1/4 tsp cayenne)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 32 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of red kidney beans
2 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine
2 tbs balsamic vinegar

Throw it together as follows:

Fry bacon until crisp and nicely rendered.   Remove and set aside. Drain fat, leave yummy bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add olive oil to the pan and heat up. 

Add chopped steak and ground chuck, salt and pepper then fry nice and brown, if you don't let it brown it will not have that deep beef flavor you want in your chili.  

Add onions and let sweat for two minutes.  Add peppers and sweat for a 2 minutes.  Then add garlic and cook on low for another minute. 

Add all spices except chipotle and mix in let sit on low heat for 1 minutes.  Add back bacon.  Deglaze the pan with the red wine, add balsamic and cook for 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes, beef stock, beans and chipotle.  Taste season with salt and pepper as needed.  Heat from whole pepper will develop as it cooks so don't be deceived if it does not seem spicy when you first taste it.  Of course, if you like it really spicy add 2 chipotles right away, this is just a mild spicy version above. 

We served this over creamy polenta, everyone seemed to enjoy it.  Let me  know what you think and if you found any changes that enhanced flavor.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crochet Flower

My "Hookin on Hump Day" Submission

My Merry Messy Life
I am linking to a great Fiber Arts Link Party held by a former member of my local MOPS group. 

Love this little flower.  It take about 10 minutes and is really easy.  I made this for my daughter who is in the National Guard and was away for6 months.  I actually finished it by spraying with my signature perfume sealing it in a sandwich bag and then sent to her with a note that said open for an instant hug.   I also added little tag that I made.  She loved it.

Today's Crochet Project

Free Pattern: Petals Newborn Hat

Another great pattern from Alli, Petals Newborn Hat.  Fast cute and great for Spring and Summer when made with cotton yarn.  I watch for deals on Lily Sugar 'n Cream and buy one or two of each color.  They have light pastels to some bright colors, beautiful.  I can usually pick them up on sale for about $1 (no on sale about $1.80).  Each ball usually yields two baby hats and a few flowers.

I used a J hook on these so they are a little bigger than newborn but still about 3-6 mths. 

Red Heart Baby/Sport weight (flowers are super saver yarn)

Lion Brand Homespun yarn

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Budget Gourmet Dessert

Yummy Gourmet Salted Caramel Brownies

These are delicious and super easy to make.  I love that salty and sweet mixture and then topped on deep chocolate brownies.  The gourmet flavor of your local bake shop without the price tag.

  • Homemade Brownies (OK they are a .99 box of brownies I made at home)
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt

  • Heat sugar in a small frying pan, until melts and turns a light copper color, only takes about 5 minutes.  But be careful not to let it get too dark or it will get bitter and taste burnt (yuck)

  • Take off the heat and while continually stirring add the butter.

  • Once the butter melts and is well mixed, stir in heavy cream and put back on low heat for about 3 minutes. If you it gets too thick or you like it more like caramel topping on ice cream add more heavy cream.

  • I added a little salt to the topping, but then added a bit more to the top of the brownies after pouring on the caramel.  I love the crunchy texture of the salt. 

  • Cut, add whip cream, and the absolutely necessary sprinkles and serve.

  •  Approved by even the smallest Gourmets

Today's Crochet Project

Free Pattern Crocheted Newborn Baby Hat

Love this pattern, simple easy and so cute for a little one.  "Tulip Newborn Hat"

They take less than an hour for even a larger hat.  I used all sport weight yarn for baby hats.  A size H hook, but I'm a tight hooker (yes that made me laugh as well) so use whatever size will yield the hat size you want. 

Tulip Newborn Hat