Tuesday, March 22, 2016

It's Tamale Day by Golly!

Today's the day. I got up at 5:30 this morning so I could work on Wub's Easter dress before I had to make salsa (mmmmmmmmmmm...) and the sweet corn filling for the tamales. I made the Spinach Filling last night while I was making the Spicy Mushroom Filling


 Wub helped me make home made salsa and the Sweet Corn and Green Chili tamale filling. I have to say they are both pretty darn tasty.

Spinach, Artichoke  and Blistered Jalapeno Filling

2 8 oz packages of fresh spinach, cleaned and rough chopped
1 12 0z package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
2 8 oz packages cream cheese softened
1 6 oz package grated parmesan cheese
1 small onion finely diced
1 small jalapeno
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of your favorite roasted garlic seasoning (I use Weber)
Salt and Pepper to taste

 Place the whole jalapeno over a burner and slowly char all over, turning periodically. Place in a bowl and cover. Set aside to steam and soften

 Heat the olive oil over medium high heat until it ripples. Add the onion and as much
spinach as will fit. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir. As the spinach wilts down add more to the pan seasoning as you go, until all of the spinach is wilted and the onions are soft.

 Pour mixture into a mesh strainer and allow to drain and cool.

 Peel and finely chop the blistered jalapeno.

 In a large bowl combine the softened cream cheese, jalapeno, garlic seasoning and parmesan. Stir in the drained spinach and chopped artichokes until well combined.

 At this point it is ready to fill tamales, enchiladas and quesadillas. You could also toss the whole deal in a casserole dish and bake at 375 until bubbly and lightly browned and it makes a pretty darn good hot dip.

Sweet Corn and Green Chili Filling 

2 lbs frozen sweet corn kernels
1 16(ish) oz jar of your favorite green salsa (I like  Mi Costena or Herdez)
1 8 oz package of cream cheese softened
1 lb shredded Queso Quesadilla or Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese
1 jalapeno roasted, peeled and seeded (see recipe above)
1 bunch green onions sliced both white and green parts.
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if no likey the cilantro)
1 Tablespoon of your favorite roasted garlic seasoning. (I use Weber)

 This is a large recipe and can easily be halved.

 In a large bowl combine the softened cream cheese with the jalapeno, cilantro, green onions and roasted garlic seasoning. Slowly stir in the green salsa. (It will look a total mess here but trust me it gets better.) Then the shredded cheese until combined and last the corn.

 If planning to use as a filling, refrigerate until set.

 Or pour into a baking dish and cook at 375 until hot and bubbly and you have a delicious dip for chips.

We made mountains of masa and entire landscapes of tamales.

Dinner was at 5:00 and we feasted on refried beans, spanish rice and oh so many delicious tamales.
All told we made about 200 tamales. So we have lunch for the next few days. (Or maybe we'll freeze them...)

Lora has agreed to share her recipe  for her incredible slow roasted beef and her delectable chicken filling. So as soon as she gets them to me I'll post them and maybe some tips on how you too can have your own Tamale Day and perhaps a freezer full of good food seasoned with good memories.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spicy Mushroom Filling

 Sunday is tamale day. Why? Because we are some tamale loving people. So tomorrow my sisters and I will get together around noon and start making masa and filling the tamales. Around 5:00pm we should have a half starved group of maniacs descend upon us to gobble up crunchy chips with homemade salsa and homemade queso and a mountain of freshly steamed tamales.

 Being the decided weirdoest in a bunch of utter nutters, I make the vegetarian filling. Because I love me a vegetarian tamale. (I also love me a meat tamale but for some reason vegetarian tamales make me real happy)

 My usual contribution is Sweet Corn and Green Chili with Queso Quesadilla Cheese. And those will be making a modified appearance tomorrow but I wanted to expand my horizons a little bit. So in addition to the usual sweet corn/green chili I will also be making a Spinach Artichoke and Blistered Jalapeno filling and these:

Spicy Mushroom Filling for Tamales or Tacos or Burritos or Enchiladas or Quesadillas or your face...

2 lbs white button mushrooms roughly chopped
2 large onions cut into medium dice
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 6 oz can tomato paste
Chipotles in Adobo Sauce*
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet until butter is foamy. Add the onions and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until softened. Turn up the heat add the garlic. cook until golden.
Mince up as many chipotle peppers as your heat level can stand (*I'm a chili head so I could have handled more but since others will be eating this I went with one. This was a nice level of heat without being alienating to the less spicy of the crew.) Add the pepper(s) 2 tsp of the adobo sauce, 1 can of tomato paste, the water and wine bring to a boil and turn down real low. Simmer 5 or 6 minutes.
Stuff into whatever you want. I would not recommend this a good filling for dolls and stuffed animals.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Free Pattern! The Other Birthday Dress

I showed off "the other birthday dress" in this post. I realised that since I'd already drafted a size 10/12 child's large pattern I might as well share it. And since I was going to share it I might as well make a mini tutorial on how to sew it.
Free Pattern

Mind you I took no pictures of the process so all I have is drawings but if you have any knowledge of sewing it should be pretty clear.

If you would like to sew the dress using the same fabric, it is available in my Spoonflower shop here:
 The fabric is designed to repeat perfectly on one yard of Modern Jersey. Other knits choices will work you will end up with less of the tossed print part of the fabric though.

You will need:
General Sewing Supplies-thread, pins, sewing machine, scissors etc.
Pattern available here-Party Animal Raglan
Less than 1 yard of knit fabric with 25% stretch and good recovery.

To begin download and print out the pattern pieces. You want to choose 100% or No Scaling or uncheck the Fit to Page box on your printer.
Trim and tape the pages following the diagram and then cut out the two pattern pieces.

Cut out two sleeves on the fold and two bodices on the fold. You will also need on strip of fabric 2x20 and one square of fabric 2x2 for the neckband.

I own a serger but at the moment it is being incredibly uncooperative so I sewed the entire dress using a narrow and long zig zag stitch. You can serge or twin needle it if you prefer.

Step one:
With right sides together sew the sleeves to one bodice piece
along the shoulder seams.

Step two:
With right sides together sew the sleeve to the other bodice half along the shoulder seam.
Repeat on the other side.Turn to right side and topstitch your seams if you desire.

Step three:
Turn dress inside out and match up the sleeves and bottom hem. Sew the side seams from sleeve hem to bottom hem on both sides, You can turn the dress right side out and topstitch if you desire. 

Step four:
To make neckband sew strip together to form a loop, fold loop in half lengthwise concealing the stitches to the inside.

Fold knot piece in half and stitch along cut edge. Turn tube so seam is on the inside.

Step five: 
Pin the knot piece onto the center sleeve portion of the neckline and baste in place. Center the seam of the neckband over the knot piece and pin evenly around the neckline. Fold the knot piece up to cover the seam and stitch the neckband to the neckline. Turn to right side and topstch in place.

Step six:
Hem sleeves and bottom edge of dress (I used a lettuce edge on the bottom)

The legaleze: I believe when you give you should give with both hands. What that means for you. If you want to share the file it would be nice if you sent people here to get it but you don't have to. If you want to change the file, change it. If you want to sell dozens or hundreds of size 10/12 raglan dresses be my guest. Enjoy!

Monday, March 07, 2016

A super party...with Printables!

This weekend was my great nephew Jude's 5th birthday party.

And because 5 is kind of a big deal, His grandma and mom wanted to make it super for him. As in Super Hero and also as in super over the top.

Everyone dressed up as their favorite super hero and played tie up the villains (parents)

 Enjoyed a spectacular cake courtesy of Piece of Cake and his Aunt Amanda.

 And had a general blast eating "hero" sandwiches, Thor's hammers and super cookies.
We put a lot of work and thought into making this a truly super party.
My part was designing the invitations, printables and cutouts for the party.
I designed all the Pows, the banners and labels for sandwiches sand silverware. In the spirit of giving I'd like to share those printables with you. Free.
 All of the files can be found here:
Because I believe that when you give, you should give with both hands, you are free to use these files in any manner you see fit. Share them, change them as you see fit. Whatever you like these are for you.

Also Scarlet Witch Costume!

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Eight is great...

 Today is the Wub's 8th birthday. Every year I look back wistfully at how much our sweet pie baby has grown. Each birthday takes her farther from that sweet tiny baby that she was and turns her toward the amazing kid that she's turning out to be.

At one you were fun, smiling and clapping, learning to walk and cheese for the camera.
Two was not terrible, but merry and sweet with shiny red shoes on your cute little feet.
Three was beast because you were our beauty and you know there's no such thing as a Gruffalo
At four you keen to sing us Jolene and explain that you were not a "minja"
Then five came along for our fierce "masketeer" and a sweet pixie haircut that showed off your ears.
Six and in school brought you glasses to see and a party so fancy with cookies and tea
Seven danced in and twirled us about with tutus and tap shoes dancing recitals
Eight is upon us, what will it bring? No matter the journey, the places you go, I'm glad that we get to enjoy the show.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The Other Birthday Dress...

Yes, I made two. But Modern Jersey was on sale at Spoonflower and I'd been painting these pictures and I already had the fabric mostly designed and let's face it, who doesn't love a raglan dress?
I drafted the dress myself using one of her school uniform for size/shape and modifying it for the raglan sleeve. I used this tutorial to get the sleeve right.
The fabric was designed specifically for this type of dress and sized specifically for one yard of  Modern Jersey from Spoonflower.com.
 The dress is switchable from front to back because Wub liked panels. Maybe the alligator a little more. The bottom hem is a lettuce edge in rainbow thread.

See ya' later, alligator!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The Birthday Dress

I used The Norah Dress and Tunic Pattern by Mouse House Creations with a few modifications (Primarily because I had printed the pattern piece and not the instructions and then could not figure out which computer I had stored the original file.)

The bodice is unlined and I did a bias bound neckline instead.
I added an exposed zipper at the back instead of the button and loop closure.
I left the hem straight to show off the border print fabric which gave the dress a handkerchief style hem.
I embroidered the collar, hem and sleeves. The collar also has celebrate embroidered on it.
It was a fairly easy sew (even without instructions) and I want to make her a few more as I love this silhouette on her.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Chicken, Leek and Potato Soup in honor of my father

My dad used to make this incredibly delicious soup. Every pot was delightful, magical and soul satisfying. Tender shreds of chicken, soft potatoes and delicate leeks floating in a fantastically scented, slightly creamy broth.

There are a few foods that I think of as belonging to Dad. Barbecue and especially the sauce, chili, boiled dinner and spaghetti sauce that took three days to make.  I can oven roast some damn fine meat, fake a sauce that doesn't compare to his but is still good, make pretty darn good chili and my spaghetti sauce is awesome even if it doesn't take three days to make.

I've made the soup the way my dad did for years. Although I am always willing to explore new flavors and recipes, there are some foods that are hard wired in my brain. The way they are is the way they are and you just don't mess with them.

But one of the ingredients for the soup became increasingly difficult to find. I could never find it when I wanted it and when I did find it it was usually mid July and soup was not at all what I was craving.

So one winter day I became desperate enough to commit traditional recipe heresy. See, the secret to my dad's soup was Knorr Leek Soup Mix. Three stores and no luck so I just bought 3 large leeks and decided to fake it. (ha ha I faked the fake stuff)

By  the way it is considerably easier to find Knorr Leek Soup these days thanks to the interweb but I tend to stick to my newfangled version.

Chicken Leek and Potato Soup

3 large leeks, cleaned and diced
1 small onion finely diced
2 medium carrots finely diced
2 ribs celery finely diced
4 oz button mushrooms finely diced
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Large sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 quarts of chicken stock*
 *This can be homemade, or made by boiling a chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper in 3 quarts of water reserve the chicken for the soup, or canned or boxed low sodium chicken broth.
1 6 oz chicken breast boned or deboned (unless boiling a whole chicken to start)
2-3 or 4 or 5 or 12 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large cubes. Honestly, there never seems to be enough (You can peel them if you like, my dad did, but I am lazy and like the skins)
4 cups whole milk or 3 1/2 cups skim milk and 1/2 cup cream.
8 oz sour cream

In a large pot, over medium heat, sweat the vegetables with the rosemary in the butter and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chicken broth, and chicken breast, bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside to cool.

Add the potatoes to the pot with a generous amount of salt and  bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, shred (and debone if on the bone) chicken breast. When the potatoes are tender add the chicken to the pot. Test for seasoning and adjust to taste.

Slowly whisk in the milk and sour cream and bring up to temperature. Do not boil.

Serve in large bowls with a spoon. You can have other stuff like bread and/or a salad too if you like.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Mimosa Jam or three trips to the store later...

 I'm not sure if it's obvious, but I REALLY like making jam. I love pretty much the whole process from picking out the fruit to giving it away to my family and friends and all the steps between.

 This particular adventure came about because at Christmas time Rowen couldn't find any store bought Mimosa Jam for Baked Brie. I was too tired/busy then to attempt it but thought while I'm on vacation...

 So on Friday I sent MHM to the store for a bottle of inexpensive champagne only to realise our debit card was not working. Fine. Saturday after going to see Star Wars The Force Awakens (sooooooooooo good!) we stopped off at another store and picked up a bottle of Roget Spumante. Alright! now we're cooki...damn. No low sugar pectin. MHM ran off to yet another  store and bought me a jar of it. (And yes, I make so much jam we buy it in the big jar.)

 By this time, I wasn't feeling so super. My legs were giving me fits so I decided to have a bit of a lie down. I finally have a diagnosis for all the problems I had at the end of the year last year, Erythema Nodosum. which is inflammation of the fatty layer of the skin. Not as scary as some other choices I had for diagnosis (Lupus) but slower to heal than I want.

 So this morning...

Mimosa Jam
2 oranges peeled, reserve the peel from 1 of the oranges.
4 1/2 cups of orange juice preferably not from concentrate. (I would not bother with fresh squeezed since you are going to cook it.)
2 cups of inexpensive sparkling wine
3 cups of sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons Low Sugar Pectin.

 Set up for however you wish to store the jam. I use small plastic containers. You can preserve it in jars if you wish.

 Mix  the 2 Tablespoons of sugar with the 4 Tablespoons of pectin and set aside.

 Using a spoon, scrape off all of the white pith from the orange peel. Then slice into fine slivers. Place the oranges in the blender with 1 cup of the juice and process briefly. We're going for seriously pulpy orange juice here.

 Pour the orange mixture into a large wide pan add the remaining juice, sparkling wine, peel, sugar, salt and butter. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for 7 minutes. Watch carefully as this really liked to boil over. Towards the end of the cooking time begin skimming the foam from the top. You can discard it or save it to top ice cream, yogurt, pancakes etc. Or mix with ice and soda water to make the best fruit soda EVER.

 Stir in the sugar/pectin mixture. Return to a boil and cook for two minutes. Process how you see fit.

Oh my yum...

Although I think I may make a slightly  different version with more orange pulp and peel because I have all the ingredients, so why not?. I'll let you know.

This is more like marmalade... 

Mimosa Marmalade or...Marmosa?

4 oranges peeled, reserve the peel from 3 of the oranges.*
1 1/2 cups of orange juice preferably not from concentrate. Plus more maybe a further 1 1/2 cups
2 cups of inexpensive sparkling wine
3 cups of sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons Low Sugar Pectin

 Set up for however you wish to store the jam. I use small plastic containers. You can preserve it in jars if you wish.

 Mix  the 2 Tablespoons of sugar with the 4 Tablespoons of pectin and set aside.

  Using a spoon, scrape off all of the white pith from the orange peel. Then slice into fine slivers. *Why did I use three instead of all four? I got tired of scraping pith.

  Place the oranges in the blender with 1 cup of the juice and process briefly. We're going for seriously pulpy and slightly chunky orange juice here.

 Pour the orange mixture into a large wide pan add the remaining juice, sparkling wine, peel, sugar, salt and butter. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for 7 minutes. For some reason this version did not try to boil over and there was absolutely no foam. I think I may have forgotten to add the butter to the first batch of jam.

 Stir in the sugar/pectin mixture. Return to a boil and cook for two minutes. Process how you see fit.

 Eat on toast.