March 15, 2012

Irish Nachos

Living in the great Southwest means growing up loving certain flavors. When my boys have to fend for themselves, they make cheese crisps (quesadillas) or nachos. Sometimes they come up with some interesting combos! For instance, my eldest concocted this with Wasabi Doritos.
Most times our nachos come out looking something like this:

Kristin's Improv Challenge for this month utilized potatoes & cheese for our base ingredients. This gave opportunity to add another bit of international flair to our nacho repertoire. And how appropriate for St. Patty's day!
We started with a base of oven-fried potatoes. (Recipes all over the internet! Here's a simple one, if you need it.)
We like to pile on the feather shred. (The boys are partial to medium cheddar.) 
I stuck the plate back into the oven so it could get good & melty...
... & a dollop of sour cream topped that.
Next came some slivers of corned beef.  You could use bacon crumbles, if you'd rather...
Sprinkle on a bit of green onion...
...and garnish with finely shredded (raw) cabbage.
Forget the forks! 
Dive in with both hands!
It is that good!
(Now I'm just being mean...)

And here's where I'm partying...

March 14, 2012

I am the Vine...

My friend changed up her dining room to Tuscan decor. It is filled with olive-y greens & deep grape-y purples. I love the texture of the walls. She's got quite a bit of wrought iron (that's her husband's profession...) for accent. I designed this for her:
(even the fringe is machine embroidery...)

Holiday Roast

This has become one of our favorite holiday meats. It runs a close second to honey-glazed ham at Christmas; and has all but replaced the turkey on our Thanksgiving table.

We begin by asking the butcher to "butterfly" a pork loin roast.

Our favorite filling is dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, chopped dried plums(prunes) or raisins, slivered almonds, rosemary & a good Merlot soaking.
Open the meat out flat.
Season with kosher salt & fresh ground pepper.
Spread filling as evenly as possible across meat.
Roll tightly (you'll probably have to keep cramming the fruit back in on the edges...) & tie with butcher's twine.
Place fat-side up on rack in roaster. Season with salt & pepper.
Preheat oven to 350° and roast to desired brown-goodness.
Remove and let set for about 15 minutes before slicing. (Be sure to remove ties!)
(Please forgive blurry pics -- the steam was fogging my lens...)
This is the way we eat our rolled roast; but you could deglaze the drippings to make a savory sauce.

March 13, 2012

late to the camera strap cover party

So, last week I stitched my very first camera strap cover. I know, I know... what took me so long to try it?
I wanted to send a little thank you gift to the very wonderful Megan who photographed Zach's senior portraits. She spent oh so much time with him & did such a marvelous job!
I had a desire to stitch something that could look professional with somewhat of a girly kick to it. I decided that black & white would be perfect.
While the machine was stitching out the wording, I covered two buttons with a tiny check pattern for flower centers.
Sometimes if a piece might get some wear & tear or need to be washed, it is a good idea to seal the bobbin threads so the lettering doesn't unravel.
Toile side got the three flowers.
The ruffle is a coordinating Laura Ashley black vine print.
Close-ups of the flowers:
The one out of toile was wrapped tightly & fringed. Three black beads became the perfect center!

March 12, 2012

that's how we roll...

Or, “This is the Way we Prefer to Cook our Corned Beef.”

Boiled vegetables (namely cabbage & onions) have never really been a favorite of mine.  I must’ve trained the hubs & sons correctly, because they’re polite to eat them when served that way; but would much rather have them grilled, roasted or sautéed. This does present a bit of a problem when fixing a “traditional” St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

Many years ago (like almost 20?) I came across a recipe on a corned beef wrapper that suggested roasting the meat in ginger ale and then glazing it with mustard & brown sugar. Unfortunately, I did not save that wrapper, so I do not have the exact recipe/proportions.  This was hands-down the very best corned beef I’d ever eaten! With the mustard/brown sugar glaze, it tasted so similar to a honey-baked ham. The meat was fork tender.

Since then, we have tried this many ways (even once with an orange-flavored soda… not good!) with various cooking methods. We’ve crock-potted, baked, and even boiled-in-soda-then-threw-on-grill.  (Here I came across the recommendation to use Dr. Pepper in the braising liquid.) Every time we’ve been so pleased with the flavor and tenderness of the meat. (…and every time I’ve cooked it differently my boys say, “Sure wish you would have used some ginger ale with this. Don’t we have ginger ale? Next time try the ginger ale way.”)

At Costco we found a nice-sized package of corned beef.
(ummmm, yeah -- that does say 11.69 lb)
I stuck it fat-side-up in the roaster and covered it with the ginger syrup leftover from this process, and added a whole can of ginger ale to the liquid. 
Covered the roaster and stuck it in the oven pre-heated to 350°. Left it there for about 4½ hours.
(If I would’ve uncovered the roaster the last half hour, the liquid would’ve cooked down & the fat would be nice & browned.)
We did have to sample it, though…
…and yes! It was sooooooooo tender!

March 11, 2012

for Givana

Last month my li'l sis commissioned me to stitch up some girlie necessaries in zebra & pink. Her friend was expecting a granddaughter.
Had no trouble running down zebra prints (I even picked up a remnant of zebra fleece I didn't get to use in this project...) but do ya think I could find the pink chenille I wanted? I ended up buying a bath towel. Fortunately the pink wasn't very difficult to match.
First up was embroidering one of the burps with a zebra. Love the rick rack trim... 
What I'm never going to do again is monogram an initial with terry toweling! I do like the way it looks now, but it was a real pain to trim! 
I found the pattern for the changing pad here. (Of course I had Pinterested it a few weeks prior & knew right where to find it!) The directions were easy to follow.
I did end up stitching the binding by hand instead of top-stitching because of the thickness of the terry.
I packaged the three items up & shipped it off to the sis. She amazingly found some zebra wrapping paper & matching ribbon at Michael's.

(Gonna link up with Skip to my Lou for Made by You Monday.)