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1  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Instant Pot Shrimp Risotto on: October 27, 2016 09:48:29 AM
So, apparently you can make delicious, creamy risotto in a pressure cooker! Who knew? Since I'm now obsessed with my Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) I had to try this out. As usual I make up my own recipes as I go along based on bits and pieces of what I find here and there.

Shrimp Risotto

2 T oil, divide
3/4 cup diced shallot
1 bunch sliced green onion, white and green separated
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups hot chicken or vegetable broth
4 sprigs of thyme, or 1 t dried
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1/2 t granulated garlic
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined (I used the 41-50 size)

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
reserved green parts of green onions
3/4 cup frozen green peas

Using the saute function on your Instant Pot, heat 1 t of oil and saute the shallot, garlic, mushrooms, and white parts of the green onion until soft. Remove from pot or push to the outside of pot leaving space in middle. Add 1 T of oil to the middle and add rice, stirring until lightly golden. Add shallot mix back in if you had previously removed it. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan, and continue stirring until wine is absorbed and the alcohol smell disappears. Add all the other ingredients through the shrimp.

Stir and lock the lid in place and set for 7 minutes, manual pressure. It might take 10-15 minutes to come to pressure. As soon as the 7 minutes of pressure is up, carefully to a quick release and wait for the steam to subside. Carefully open the lid and stir in the rest of the ingredients. taste and see if you need to adjust seasoning with additional salt/pepper/red pepper flakes. Wait a moment for the peas to warm up and then serve, garnishing each plate with more Parmesan cheese if you like.

I was a bit worried that the shrimp would be overcooked but they were delicious and perfect, not tough or rubbery at all!

You can of course make this in a pot on the stove using traditional risotto methods, but you may need more broth since none of the liquids are lost in the pressure cooking process.

2  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Winter Beef Stew (Instant Pot) on: October 17, 2016 10:14:46 AM
Beef Stew in the Instant Pot

2 lbs beef chuck roast, cut in 1 inch chunks
salt and pepper
1/4-1/2 cup flour
3 T Oil

1/2 small can tomato paste
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 cans beef consomme
6 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 turnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
4 red potatoes, quartered (should be at least twice as big as your harder veggies so they don't fall apart during cooking)
8 ounces whole mushrooms

Salt and pepper the beef chunks and then shake with the flour in a large ziplock bag to coat. Heat up 1 T oil in the Instant Pot on Saute, and add 1/3 of the beef. Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally until several sides are browned. Remove to a bowl, and add another T of oil and another 1/3 of the beef. Continue until all the beef is browned.

Add the wine to the pan and stir until you get all the meat and flour bits off the bottom of the pan. Not only does this add flavor to the stew, but if there are any bits on the bottom, the Instant Pot may not come to pressure as it will think something is burning. Add the tomato paste and consomme and stir to dissolve the paste.

Add the herbs, garlic, and seasonings and stir, then add all the vegetables. Put the lid on and lock it in place and make sure the vent is moved to "seal."  Choose Manual pressure, 25 minutes. It took a little over 10 minutes to come to pressure for me. After the 25 minutes is up, allow to naturally release. We could only wait for 10 minutes since it smelled so good, so after the 10 minute Natural Pressure Release (NPR) I carefully released the rest of the pressure.

Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems, taste for seasoning, it may need more salt and/or pepper. Serve with some crusty bread and a green salad.
3  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Instant Pot Cooking on: October 11, 2016 09:05:25 AM
My Instant Pot arrives today! Who has one? Can you share your favorite recipe? I already have meals planned out for this week and am not going back to the grocery store, but I'm working on my meal planning/grocery list for next week. I think my first, or one of my first things to try out will be this Chili Lime Chicken

Any tips or tricks you want to share? I'm so excited, I joined a FB group and it is almost overwhelming!
4   / QUILTING / Quilting Featured Projects--Quarters 1 & 2, 2016 on: July 06, 2016 11:50:44 AM
In no particular order, here are some beautiful quilts posted during the first 2 quarters of 2016. As always, these are chosen by you Craftster members when you use the "This Rocks" button! Quilts that have been previously featured in the Craftster wide Featured projects are not shown here, so we can spread the love around to other projects that you may have missed.

I adore this Harry Potter Marauders quilt by Craftster user Noelle. It has such a clean aesthetic but still includes a ton of lovely details!

The Scrappy Trip Around the World pattern has been super hot in recent years, and this Round the World Baby Quilt from Amazon_Warrior shows why with vibrant results. Not only is it created in a unique way, but the end result leaves a striking pattern.

As a huge Mario fan, I have to admit I squealed a little bit when I saw this Fire Flower Slots Quilt from semel. Who wouldn't love to have this bright quilt on their bed or their couch to cuddle up in while playing vintage Nintendo games?

While I try to spread the love around to as many members as possible, Amazon_Warrior has to make another appearance on this list with her incredible Gotham Baby Quilt. She designed this herself! I love the intricate piecing that gives the skyline extra depth.

I love the soft colors in the snowball pattern In Full Bloom Quilt by Immaculata. She finished this quilt from a WIP from 2009!

This set of mini quilts from mouseinmypocket features several traditional quilt patterns with a twist! Her Focus Through the Prism Challenge Quilts showcase 9 Patch, Churn Dash, and Friendship Star blocks, amongst others, with a modern update.

5  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Cauliflower Spinach Puree on: June 28, 2016 07:56:15 PM
Have you tried mashed cauliflower before? It's so good, a healthier take on mashed potatoes but surprisingly delicious. I kicked the nutrients up a little more with this batch and added a bunch of spinach. You can't really taste the spinach but you get those extra vitamins and a pretty color!

I'm currently doing keto, a kind of low carb diet, and this is a good potato/starch substitute.


1 large head cauliflower, roughly cut up into florets
5 ounces raw baby spinach (half a bag if you buy regular sized bags Wink )
2 ounces cream cheese
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder or paste (or salt to taste)
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons dried chives

Add the cauliflower to a large pot of boiling, salted water. Test occasionally with a fork or knife, you will want it completely tender (maybe 8-10 minutes depending on the size of your florets). 30 seconds before you're ready to take it out, add the spinach. Drain the cauliflower and spinach well and transfer to a large food processor. Process until smooth, add the rest of the ingredients, and process until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings. You can easily leave the butter out of this recipe if you like, the Parmesan and cream cheese add a lot of flavor.

Makes 6 servings
Nutrition information per serving: 187 calories, 6 g protein, 15 g fat, 9 g carbs, 4 g fiber
Approx 35 fewer calories/4 g fat per serving if you leave out the butter

This is good with any kind of protein and I also serve it sometimes with a Garlic Cream Sauce.
6  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Green Eggs and Spam on: April 01, 2016 06:50:51 AM
What's better than a big plate of eggs and Spam to start off your day? I can't think of anything, except maybe adding a bunch of veggies to your eggs for an extra healthy kick!

Green Eggs and Spam

2 eggs, scrambled with a splash of cream, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes
1 can Spam, (Spam Lite to save some cals!) sliced into thin slabs and then each slab cut in half
3 chopped green onions
2 cups chopped spinach
6-8 stalks of Asparagus, chopped
garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste
1 teaspoon butter

In a large pan cook your spam on medium high heat, turning frequently to brown on all sides.

At the same time in a smaller pan cook your veggies with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

When cooked to your liking, push them to the outside of the pan, leaving an empty circle in the center. Melt the butter in the center of the pan and add the eggs, scrambling the eggs and working the veggies in from the outside. When cooked to your liking, remove from the heat, add the cheese on top and place a lid on to melt for a couple of minutes. Serve with crispy Spam on the side!

7  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 112 ENTRIES / Circle of Geese Ultra Tiny Mini Quilt on: March 03, 2016 04:16:08 PM
For this challenge I knew I wanted to make a teeny tiny paper pieced quilted item. After thinking about making my own design, I decided shrinking down one already out there would be better for my sanity. I printed this Circle of Geese pattern from Piece By Number out at 30%, which made it almost the right size, and copied it on my printer at 90% which gave me 2 inch sections. I then added back in the 1/4 seam allowance since those had also been reduced down and were now like, 1/32 inch.

I used various (tiny) scraps from my stash along with some Essex linen for background (I think maybe Steel, but I could be wrong. Probably I'm wrong.)

The backs of paper piecing patterns are kind of fun to look at. Normally my seams wouldn't be quite so hideous, but that's what happens when you have so many tiny pieces!

I just quilted some straight lines close together with light gray Aurifil.

Adding the binding to the front. It was a PITA because I do continuous binding, so sewing the ends together after it was already mostly attached was a little rough. I did a smaller than usual seam allowance to attach the binding since I could already tell it was going to cover up the geese a little bit. I do wish I had printed the pattern out even a little bit smaller so I could have added a border on before the binding, but oh well!

I hand stitched the binding to the back, which I normally don't do, but for something this tiny it didn't take very long! Smiley I love my tiny binder clips!

Oh, and paper piecing makes a huge mess, in case you weren't aware! How could this pile of scraps and paper bits have been the results of making this tiny little thing?

4 Inches on the nose! I might hang this on the wall with a whole set of other super tiny mini quilts, or it might become a coaster.

8  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Breakfast Tostada (plus black beans & pico de gallo recipes) on: February 20, 2016 02:26:41 PM
We've been on a Mexican burrito bowl kick lately so I've been keeping various components made up in the fridge. This one uses up the homemade black beans and fresh pico de gallo I made a couple days ago. Whatever canned or store bought ingredients you have on hand will work just as well for this quick meal!

Breakfast Tostada
Serves 1

1 tostada shell (or corn tortilla baked until crispy)
1/2 cup beans, warmed (whole beans or refried both work great)
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup pico de gallo or salsa
1 egg

Warm the tostada shell and the beans while you cook the egg. I like my eggs over easy. Layer beans, cheese, and pico onto warmed tostada and top with the egg. Dig in!

Vegetarian Spicy Black Beans
These are the best beans I've ever made, I took elements from several different recipes. The jalepeño adds some really great flavor and just the right amount of heat. In the first 2 hours of cooking, you can also add a quartered green bell pepper to later remove, but I was out of bell peppers.

1 lb black beans
1 large onion, quartered
3 stalks celery, cut into 4 inch pieces
1 jalapeño, cut in half (pull out some of the seeds with a spoon if you want it less spicy)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed + 4 cloves garlic pressed/minced
1 Tbsp powdered or paste vegetable bouillon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin + 2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups salsa, pico de gallo, or a mix of chopped tomato and onion
Juice of 1 lime, optional

Soak beans in a large pot of water overnight. When ready to cook, rinse the beans and add water to cover the beans by about 2 inches. Add the quartered onion, celery, jalapeño, smashed garlic, vegetable bouillon, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp cumin. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, put a lid on, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more water if it gets too low. After 2 hours, beans should be tender or almost tender. Remove chunks of onion/celery/garlic/jalapeño. Add additional 1 tsp cumin, chili powder, pressed/minced garlic, and pico/salsa/tomatoes/onion. Simmer for 30 minutes more with the lid off or until consistency you like is reached, stirring every 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Add a squirt of lime if you need the acid (my pico had plenty of lime juice so I didn't add additional, recipe below).

Pico de Gallo

1/2 large onion, diced
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribbed removed, minced finely
Juice from 1-2 limes
3-4 fresh tomatoes, diced
dash of garlic powder
1 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the onion and jalapeño in the lime juice for 10 minutes to mellow it out a bit. Mix in tomatoes, garlic powder, cilantro, and salt and pepper. Store in the fridge for several hours to overnight for the flavors to meld together.

9  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Stupid Easy Taco Soup on: January 29, 2016 05:33:05 PM
This is a recipe my whole family likes, including my 3 nephews! It's stupid easy to make too! A little chopping, brown the meat, throw everything in and let it simmer.

Stupid Easy Taco Soup

1 T oil, if you are using lean beef or turkey, can omit if beef has higher fat content
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
12-16 oz ground beef or turkey*

1 can refried beans
2 cans pinto, white, kidney, or black beans, drained and rinsed (2 cans total, pick your fave combo)
1 can Rotel, do not drain (tomatoes with green chiles)**
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup Salsa
2-3 cups broth (chicken, beef, veggie)
2 T. ranch mix powder
2 T. taco seasoning

Optional Toppings

crushed tortilla chips
shredded cheese
sour cream or yogurt
chopped cilantro
diced tomatoes
sliced black olives
chopped green onions

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and add onions and garlic. Saute until soft and translucent and add ground meat.  Cook until no pink remains and add beans, 2 cups of broth, corn, tomatoes, salsa, and seasoning. Stir and simmer, adding 1 more cup of broth if you need more liquid. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes. Top with tortilla chips, sour cream or yogurt, and other optional toppings.

*Make vegetarian by omitting and using extra beans, tvp, or faux meat crumbles
**If you can't find Rotel or similar, substitute with 15 oz can diced tomatoes + 4 oz can green chiles

10  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / 2016 QuiltAlong, now with prizes! on: January 28, 2016 06:57:51 AM
Welcome to the 2016 Quilt Along! Please join in as we work on various quilting projects this year. The point of this Quilt Along is to motivate ourselves and others to work on their projects and provide a space to discuss projects during and after their completion, as well as fill the Quilting Board with beautiful quilts.

To join our Quilt Along, please post a list of the 4-8 quilts you will be working on this year, baby sized or larger. We are going to have quarterly prizes this year for anyone that completes 1 or 2 quilts per quarter and checks in weekly. There will be an additional prize drawing at the end of the year for anyone that completes at least 1 quilt each quarter.

Of course, discussing and sharing in-progress pics of any quilted projects, large or small, quilted mug rugs, wall hangings, and whatever smaller projects you are working on this year are always welcome, they just won't be eligible for the drawing each quarter!

I'll keep track with links in the second post of people's lists so you can find your "master list" quickly and easily.

Why did I change the QuiltAlong rules from previous years?
The last few years the QuiltAlong hasn't been as formal, vocal, or as had as much of a feeling of community as it used to have, and a lot of that is because I've been super busy being an officer in my local quilt guild. This year I am back to being a "civilian quilter" for the first time in 3 years and want to make this a fun environment where we get things done! Also, by reducing our lists and having prizes and quilting deadlines, I'm hoping we'll all be able to make some real progress this year!

How to join the 2016 QuiltAlong:

1.) Make a post introducing yourself (tell us about your quilting likes and dislikes and your quilting journey) along with your list of 4-8 Quilts, baby sized or larger that you are committing to working on this year. They could be started already or quilts you haven't started yet, tops languishing ready to be quilted, or any stage in between.

2.) Check in weekly as much as possible. I'll try to have fun check-ins where I ask a question you can answer, or share what you're working on. If you miss a couple check-ins, you won't be out of the quarterly prize drawing, but if you never participate you won't be eligible.

3.) When you finish a project on your list, make a post for it with picture(s) on the Quilting Board AND share it in this QuiltAlong thread with a picture and link to your post on the Quilting Board.

You can have up to 2 entries per quarter for quilts that are completely finished and are at least baby sized or larger. Each entry will give you a chance in the drawing. The prize could be a pattern or fabric, but since shipping is crazy expensive now, if you are international to me (outside of US) it will probably be a downloadable pattern. It's also possible I can get a sponsor or two for this QuiltAlong Wink At the end of the year there will be an additional prize drawing that includes all people who have finished at least 1 quilt on their list every quarter.

2011 QuiltAlong Thread
2012 QuiltAlong Thread
2013 QuiltAlong Thread
2014 QuiltAlong Thread
2015 QuiltAlong Thread

Quilt by amazon_warrior in 2015 QuiltAlong

Prize for Quarter 1
Quarter 1's prize is going to be a pattern from Hunter's Design Studio! Thank you so much Sam Hunter for your donation! Sam is the designer of oodles of fun patterns as well as the author of the popular book Quilt Talk, her wonderful paper pieced alphabet with lots of fun projects to go along with it!

If the winner is in the US they will receive a physical pattern of their choice, for an international winner the prize will be a downloadable pattern of their choice.

You could win one of these cool patterns, or a different pattern from her site!

Photos credit Sam Hunter, Hunter's Design Studio
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