Thursday, December 31, 2009

cheese ball, brie, and fudge

All of our visitors are gone now. We so love having everyone around at the holidays, but it is good to get back into our normal routine. We lucked out both this year and last since family came to us and we didn't have to travel. I could understand last year since we were living in Florida and could promise manatee and dolphin watching, kayaking, shelling, bike rides along the bay and otherwise sunny warm weather. Here in southern Indiana this year, I guess we know the truth, our family just loves us- because they came anyway. With two sick kids, we were pretty much house bound. The sick kids were an excuse- there wasn't a lot to go do anyway.

Being stuck at home did make for some good eating. Cheese ball, brie and fudge were grazing items at our house last week (to name a few). Oh yummy goodness. Here are three recipes that we love and usually only get at Christmas time.

Fudge: (also pictured are lemon squares -my favorites- and Mexican wedding cookies)

1 can evaporated milk
1 t vanilla
4 1/2 c sugar
2 sticks butter
18 oz chocolate chips

mix milk and sugar in saucepan. bring to full boil. boil 6 minutes. Pour over butter, vanilla, and chocolate chips. Stir until well blended. Let set up in fridge or in tins in the garage as we usually have to do.

Baked Brie with apples

brown sugar

Place brie in an oven safe glass dish. Cover with brown sugar. Add a couple pats of butter to top. Bake until brie is soft and a little melty. (about 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes) Serve with apple slices. If the apples are going to sit out awhile- soak the apples in a little salt water and rinse.

Cheese Ball with ham

2 packages cream cheese (16 oz) room temp
1 package sliced chip beef- sliced and diced
1/8 c mayo
1-2 t Worcester sauce

Combine all ingredients. Form into ball. Chill. Serve with crackers or vegetables.

What's your favorite holiday grazing treat?

a break from recipes- glass etching

I asked for glass etching cream for Christmas and was super excited when I did get it. I think it was on my list last year and I didn't get any. I was a little nervous because the bottle says "warning, may be fatal." nice. It also warns about the fumes, but I didn't smell anything.

So, I (with the help of my sister in law) raided my cabinets and dug up some of my Pyrex glass dishes. I think we did about 6 pieces and then the next day I did 6 more things on my own. The label warns that not all pryex will work. We only had one dud out of about 13 pieces.

We used vinyl letters that were in my scrap booking kit. I know I've had these letters for years. I'm not sure what options are at the stores now, but I would guess there are more choices. Then, painters tape was used for the edges.

The cream must be put on thickly and this particular kind needed five minutes to do its thing.

After washing it off and drying the dish, the etching appears. These pictures do not do them justice. They turned out really cool. I used out last name on a few pieces (my crock pot lid, a 9 x 13- things I often take places). On some other pieces, I used words like delish, yum, food, grub, leftovers, treats, so good, etc.

It was kind of addicting. I kept looking for things to etch. I want to work on hubby's coffee pot, but he has warned me against that.

I have my eyes on a mirror and a vase in the living room, but I think a different font would look better. I'll have to keep my eyes out at the craft shop.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

cheesy beany goodness

I meant to ask yesterday if you had a favorite warm soup recipe. Leave a comment here and share a link to your blog or favorite recipe online. We're freezing in IN and some warm soup could sure hit the spot. (I think I'll go add this to yesterday's posting too)

on to today's post:

Enviromom shared this great recipe for bean puree. My kiddos will eat anything with cheese on it, so I thought this might spice things up a bit.

White Bean Puree
3 cups cooked or canned navy or other white beans, drained
About 1 cup vegetable stock or water
3 tablespoons EV olive oil
Salt & pepper
Warm beans on stove top. Puree beans in a food processor or blender using as much liquid to make them smooth but not watery. Put back in a saucepan along with olive oil. Heat gently. (This is when I added about 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese. )

We served it over bow tie noodles. Hubby and the kids raved. It was a favorite- I'll be making it again really soon.

sign of a good meal:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

french onion soup and bread bowls (not from a can part 2)

I mentioned to a friend that I needed some soup recipes since I hadn't not made a lot of it in FL. She shared this delicious but rather intensive recipe for french onion soup. I was craving a nice soup bowl. so here's recipes for both.

Bread Bowl:

2 package yeast (each packet has 2 1/4 t)

2 1/2 c water

2 t salt

2 T vege oil

7 c flour

1 T cornmeal

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Let sit 10 ish minutes (or longer if a fight over the big dinosaur distracts you). Add other ingredients. Knead. Rise 1 hour (or longer if you're running out to target to find Brutus the monster truck that your little guy thought he was getting for Christmas that he did not get). punch down. Separate into 6 pieces. Dust with cornmeal. Form each into a ball. Let rise about 1 more hour (or a little less if there is crying about when dinner will be done). Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Let cool, then cut a circle out and scoop out some of the inside without scraping too thin like I did on some. Use some of the filling pieces to toast. Place a few pieces of cheese over too. Top the soup with this.

Here's the soup. My sister suggested some goggles when the onions were killing my eyes. I agree that it is less than flattering, but it did work.

French Onion Soup

1/2 c unsalted butter

4 onions, sliced (I used 3 large ones and it was enough)

2 garlic cloves, chopped (just realized that I forgot to add this)

2 bay leaves

2 fresh thyme springs (I used dried thyme instead)

kosher salt and ground pepper

1 c red wine (about 1/2 bottle)

3 heaping T flour

2 qt beef broth

1/2 pound grated gruyere

(1 baguette, sliced if not using a bread bowl)

mix stick butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes.

Add the wine and bring to boil. reduce to simmer. Simmer until wine has evaporated and the onions are dry. This took about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and rosemary stems. Dust the onions with flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat to low so the flour doesn't burn and cook 10 minutes.

Add beef broth. Bring back to simmer and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Top with toasted bread and sliced gruyere cheese (or other hard swiss).

yum! (This must have been one of the bowls that I got a little thin on the inside, it's a little leaky). I think it must have made 10 servings.

I will say that this soup recipe was a little too much for me. It was a lot of standing over the stove and smelling onions. It was pretty yummy, but took too long. Since hubby doesn't like onions, I think this one will be a rare make at our house.
Do you have a favorite warm soup recipe. Leave a comment and share a link to your blog or favorite recipe online. We're freezing in IN and some warm soup could sure hit the spot.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Photos

If you're new to my blog or have come here looking for some craft or recipe, I promise I mostly do those types of posts. In fact, there will be recipe overload next week (peaches and cream cake, apple brie, french onion soup and bread bowls to name a few). In the meantime, here are some photos from our Christmas fun with some commentary.

Hubby's parents spent a few days before Christmas with us.

We did Christmas Eve and morning together, just us four love birds. (which I did short posts about already)

Christmas evening, my sister and mom came. The next day, my brother and his wife flew in.

We're a goofy bunch:

There were some puppet shows:

lots and lots of cooking (this poor turkey was getting a bay leave tattoo)

There are some fun outtakes from this photo shoot.
Look at what my sister showed up in... a red coat. We have a very sweet and observant aunt who sent her her own red coat that she must have bought at the same time that my Grandma had hers.
I have mentioned my lack of appreciation for the pleasant company, but here is the newest addition to our family and collection of dolls. Meet Samantha (Bee calls her Janessa sometimes).

Thank goodness for patient aunts and uncles:

Tomorrow- an explanation behind this photo.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas morning

Here's some of what Christmas morning brought us. Here's Bee's finished stage down in the basement playroom.

We added some Christmas lights and her microphone that she got from Grandma and Grandpa. The dress up clothes and costumes are right next to the stage.

Here's Lou excitedly playing with his new blocks. (You can see my sewing room is on the left through the opening. It is so nice for the kids to play and me to get some sewing done.)

Bee checking out the new doll clothes dresser:

Lou with the felt dino island:

Here's how it ended up folding up. I tried a number of different backings and closure methods. Felt loops and a long ribbon were the final choice.

Here's a video of Bee singing on her stage. This is the first performance and she wanted to do it behind the curtain. My sister and I laughed so hard at this video that we thought it would be the best one to share.

I'm off to enjoy a few days with my family. Posting may be hit or miss for a few days.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!
More pictures and such tomorrow. The stage was a big hit, I can't wait to share it.

Bee's homemade gifts

I wrote about Lou's homemade Christmas gifts, but haven't mentioned Bee's. Hubby is working on a stage that won't be installed in the playroom until Christmas Eve. (although by the time this is published, it will be done and gifted)

I made some sparkly curtains to complete the stage.

I picked up a small wooden dresser for her at a thrift store. We are in the middle of refinishing it. This will hold her doll clothes and accessories. Darn the Pleasant Company, they sent those flashy catalogues and now she is getting an American Girl (not from us) and lots of clothes and gear (also not from us). Hopefully this little dresser with keep it all in check.

I'm doing a roughed up look. I will be adding some painted birds and a cloth topper like for a changing table.

Here's the stationary set I had fun putting together for her. She loves to write letters and notes to her friends and family. She writes me a lot of notes. I save all of them, well, most of them. She is always begging for envelopes and note cards. In her set are fancy pencils, erasers, note cards, return address labels, note paper, and of course stickers. There are a bunch of envelopes too. I found this case at the thrift store for $2. The contents inside were all picked up cheaply. The return address labels are from vista print

Lou is working on this little number for her. It is for all of her many many small treasures. He keeps telling her that he is giving her a house. Luckily she is clueless and he can't describe it any further.

Here's what Bee made Lou. We ordered the plain little wooden dolls from this etsy shop for about $4. She painted one set and I painted the other. I added some clear finish when they were all done. I love her addition of eyebrows!

I'll be sharing lots of Christmas pictures tomorrow and then some family pictures after that since we have lots of company for Christmas. Good times!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

gift from my neighbor

My neighbors Carol and Abbey brought me the coolest gift that they made. It's a pin cushion and thread bag to sit by the sewing machine. I promptly put it to use. This is great for me because I make a mess when I sew. Threads go everywhere. I like that the pin cushion buttons on. When I want to take just the pin cushion upstairs to do a little work, I can just un hook it.
If you want to make one for yourself, or a last minute gift for a sewer on your list, here's some details: The pin cushion is double lined and filled with sand. The straps are sewn into the pin cushion, but button onto the bag. The bag contains boning to make the circle. This one is made from tea towels from Target.
I also had Carol (who has her etsy shop, Shop Sew Cute here) make a small rag bag for a birthday gift for a party Bee went to last weekend. We filled the rag bag with one of our crayon rolls and a coloring book from Elsie Marley. I don't think Carol has any rag bags listed right now in her shop, but I know she has several in her sewing room to be listed. They are just the right size for little hands.
Here's the packed bag. We threw in some tissue paper and were good to go:

Here's more of that adorable bag:

The coloring book has the cutest hand drawn pictures. She shared one picture per day during the month of December on her blog, or you could buy the pdf file and print them all at once from her etsy shop. I purchased it and found the printing to be so easy. We gave one copy to the birthday friend and Lou and Bee each have a copy. They have been working on it while waiting for dinner the past few nights.

I tell hubby that I need to support other people's etsy shops because so many people have supported mine. This is really just an excuse to shop. I think I'll do a post soon about my favorite etsy shops.