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41  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / All the Nuts! Nut Butter on: April 01, 2014 09:57:53 AM

Did you know you can make your own nut butter? It's stupid easy! All you need is:

Salt (optional)
Oil (optional, neutral flavored like vegetable, canola, etc)
Food Processor (or probably high speed blender? Can't you make anything in those?)

Step 1: Get some Nuts!

I'm using Mixed Nuts and Pecans from TJ's, raw almonds and some raw cashews (not pictured). I mistakenly bought low salt mixed nuts, but that's ok, we can fix that. Also, I picked out the Brazil Nuts. I don't care how much Selenium those have, I don't dig 'em. You can use multiple nuts like I did or pick your favorite nut. But if you make Brazil Nut butter you don't have to share with me.

Step 2: Throw them in your food processor! See, nasty Brazil nuts on side.

Step 3: Spin it 'round like a record baby, round right round round!

Process on low until it starts to come together. Add a few pinches of salt. Mmm Salt.

Step 4: Keep processing! You can do it!

You can add a few drippy drops of oil if it seems really dry, but it should start getting butter-y around 5 minutes or so. Taste and add more salt if you like.

Step 5: Put in container with a tight fitting lid. Try not to eat all of it at once. Mmm Nut Butter. Store in fridge if you want. Or don't, I'm not your boss.

42  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / A Grandma Baby Quilt on: February 28, 2014 01:41:49 PM
I made a "new Grandma" quilt for my best friend's mom, who just became a grandma. I also made one for my best friend since she is a new aunt!

I just did some simple modern cross blocks and used an Essex Linen for the background. I really wanted the blocks offset and at first was going to add in some half sized blocks (rectangles) in between these to make it an offset rectangular quilt, but I couldn't decide. I went to Instagram with my two designs and this one was overwhelmingly the winner. I love the partial pink blocks!

I did a fun free motion quilting pattern that a friend of mine came up with that is like beads on a string. You sew straight for a few inches and then go around in a circle about 3 times and then continue a few more inches. Each row is slightly offset from the row before as to where the beads go. Not sure if you can see it at all though, my camera broke and I can't get any decent pics from my stupid phone.

I used one of my favorite Patty Young prints on the back. Luckily, a few days after I used this up I found some more in the pink colorway on clearance Smiley Yay! Some yellow polka dots for binding and I was good to go.

I gifted this quilt and another one to my best friend this week. Here they are all wrapped up in ribbon, ready to give!

43  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / An Auntie Baby Quilt on: February 28, 2014 01:34:27 PM
I decided to make a quilt for my best friend, who just became an auntie! This is a baby quilt she can keep at her house.

This pattern is a Dutch Pinwheel and I played around with the sizing before I started so I could make big 20 inch blocks. Since I used 4 prints in each block and needed 4 HSTs of each, starting out with the 4 at a time Half Square Triangle method was perfect! In this method you do the math for your finished block to find your starting square size' (If anyone wants the formula I can look it up, it's in a book in my room somewhere). Take your two different fabrics in the starting square size, put them right sides together and stitch around all four sides. Cut on the diagonals and you have 4 HSTs that you can then trim down to the exact size needed.

When I was finishing the quilt up I happened to find this argyle fabric in the clearance room that worked perfectly for the backing!

And I've been loving black and white stripes for binding lately, such a fun contrast to the bright colors I like to use!

I gifted this quilt to my friend and another one to her mother this week, here they are all wrapped up in ribbon, ready to go!

44  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Lasagna French Bread and Mustard Green Beans with Walnuts on: January 29, 2014 08:56:23 PM
With the tomatoes made ahead of time and refrigerated, this easy meal comes together in just the time it takes to saute green beans!

I made some of batgirl's Oven Roasted Tomatoes a few days ago and am so in love! I've seriously been eating this stuff with a spoon. Which is kinda nuts, since in general I'm not a fan of cooked tomatoes. I'll eat them raw all day long, but hate chunks of cooked tomatoes in soup and pasta sauce. But these tomatoes are nom! For the tomatoes I used overripe grape tomatoes, smashed garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped Italian parsley, and dried oregano.

For the Lasagna French Bread:

Oven roasted tomatoes, re-heated if made ahead of time (see link above)
French bread, sliced and toasted or broiled
Ricotta cheese (mix with garlic and/or parmesan if you're fancy)
Parmesan or Mozzarella, shredded, (optional)

Toast or broil bread, top each slice with a couple Tablespoons of Ricotta and a generous helping of roasted tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add some shredded cheese, if desired.

For the Mustard Green Beans with Walnuts:

Lately I've been pretty obsessed with Jennifer Prince's book Eat Like a Farmgirl: 3 Ingredient Plant Based Meals. This is my take on an idea from the book.

Fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
Olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic powder
walnuts (about 2 T per 2 cups of beans, or whatever looks like a nice amount)
Grainy mustard, I like Plochman's (about 1 T per 2 cups of green beans)

Saute your green beans over medium high heat in a little olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add your walnuts and cook until tender-crisp, or to your liking. If you get impatient you can throw in a few tablespoons of water, place a lid on the pan and let steam for a few minutes. When they are done, stir in the grainy mustard.

45  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Spinach and Grapefruit Salad on: January 23, 2014 07:10:09 PM
I just re-read Eat Like a FarmGirl: 3 Ingredient Plant Based Recipes and ended up making this salad twice today. It's a great book that focuses on simple pairings, and pairing veggies with veggies and veggies with fruit. Simple is delicious!

For this salad I made a bed of fresh raw spinach, topped with some grapefruit wedges I had cut out of the membranes, and then a little handful of sliced almonds.

For an easy dressing I squeezed the grapefruit (after cutting out the wedges) into a jar, added 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of maple syrup (my grapefruit was super sweet, you might need more if your grapefruit is tart), salt and pepper and shook it up.

46  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Lightened up Smothered Chicken on: January 16, 2014 04:36:17 PM
I made this for dinner last night and it was really good. I found a recipe here but it was kind of ridiculous, it had a stick of butter plus 2T of olive oil just in the mushrooms! Dang! I decided if I removed all the butter and oil I could reduce the fat and calories and still use 3 cheeses! Smaller amounts of more flavorful cheeses (parmesan, pepperjack), is better IMO than mounds of mozzarella.

Pre-heat oven to 350*F. Spray a large baking dish with Pam. You'll need two big non-stick saute pans also (or one large and one medium), get them both going on medium high after chopping up your veggies.

6- Four Ounce chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
seasoned salt and granulated garlic
Pam spray
4 cups sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup white wine (dry)
2 T half and half
1/4 cup whipped cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
10 cups raw spinach, chopped roughly
6 T pepperjack cheese, shredded

1. In large saute pan sprayed with Pam, heated very high (8-9 on my stove), place chicken breasts. Season with seasoned salt and granulated garlic. Sear on both sides until nice brown crust, 1-2 minutes each side. Move to baking dish and place in pre-heated oven. Set timer for 15 minutes

2. While chicken is searing, put mushrooms in medium saute pan over medium high heat (6-7). No oil or butter, just spray with Pam first. Continue to cook and stir until these are golden brown, then remove from heat and set aside.

3. After chicken is removed from large pan, add more Pam spray (no need to wipe out), lower heat to medium low, and add the diced onions. When onions have cooked down and are soft but not browned, add garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then de-glaze pan with white wine. Add cream cheese and parmesan cheese. Stir in half and half, season with red pepper flakes and black pepper. Add half the spinach, stir and cook. When that's wilted down nicely add the other half. When it's wilted completely it is done and hopefully 15 minutes is about up.

4. When chicken has been in oven 15 minutes, remove. Top each chicken breast with mushrooms, then add the spinach mixture and finally 1 Tablespoon of pepperjack cheese to each one. Put back in oven for 15 minutes to finish cooking through and to melt cheeses.

Serves 6, each serving is 1 chicken breast with 1/6 the mushrooms and 1/6 the spinach/cheese mixture and 1 T pepperjack cheese

Nutrition info via MyFitnessPal:
238 calories, 6 g carbs, 32 g protein, 9 g fat, 2 g fiber

Serve with potatoes, rice or your favorite side dish.
47  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Healthy Eating in 2014 on: January 03, 2014 11:26:58 AM
Hi all!

A new year and my resolution isn't "to lose weight," like usual, it's to eat healthy and NOT do any crazy diets this year. My main goals are eating more fruits and vegetables and counting calories (portion size!) I'd love it if you joined me here to share meal plans, recipes, and other things that could encourage each other to cook and eat healthy.

Green smoothies, for me, are a great way to get in some vegetables and fruits early in the day! Here's my go-to recipe:

MareMare's Fave Green Smoothie

1 1/2 cups cold water
2 giant handfuls raw spinach (2 packed cups if you want to measure)
sweetener of choice (preferable liquid...honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, sf syrup)
5-6 frozen strawberries
1/2 frozen banana or several chunks frozen peaches

I use a regular blender for this, while I would love a BlendTek or VitaMix someday, it's not in the cards right now. Add water and spinach to blender and blend on high for at least 30 seconds. Scrape down sides if needed. Blend until it looks liquid, then blend another 15 seconds. Add sweetener and frozen fruit and blend until smooth. Drink. Love. Mmm.

48  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / 14 Quilt Projects in 2014 Quilt Along! on: December 31, 2013 04:08:28 AM
It's time for the 2014 Quilt Along! 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.

To join our Quilt Along, please post a list of the 14 quilt projects you will be working on this year. It's ok if you have more or less than 14, but we're shooting for 14(ish). Feel free to join any time throughout the year! Projects may be large or small, full sized quilts, baby quilts, quilted mug rugs, wall hangings, whatever you are working on this year!

I'll keep track with links in the second post of people's lists. When you post a project on Craftster from your list, strike it out and be sure to share a pic with us of the finished project, or post a link to where you posted it on Craftster!

2011 QuiltAlong Thread
2012 QuiltAlong Thread
2013 QuiltAlong Thread

Quilt by meleriffic in the 2013 Quilt Along
49  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Aiming for Accuracy Quilt #1 on: December 26, 2013 11:05:24 AM
I joined the Aiming for Accuracy Quilt Along earlier this year and was working on two sets of blocks. One was this colorway of purple, aqua/turquoise, yellow, pink, and gray with a medium gray sashing. I didn't really have plans for either one, but was having fun working on them. I got behind in the QAL at the end of the summer though. A month or two ago I decided that this one would be a nice Christmas present for my boyfriend's parents, so I started working on it!

I had some problems with the borders and ended up just doing a single border. Also, the quilt is upside down in all the pics. D'oh! Not that it matters that much, but since I was following a pattern I've been used to seeing it the other way!



Close-up of Crossword puzzle fabric on the back and quilting:

The quilt is about 52" x 77" which is a little bit bigger than I care to quilt on my machine at home, so I quilted it on the quilting frame at a local shop. It was my second time quilting a quilt on the frame and my first time doing so by myself (my friend who teaches there was alongside me last time!) My boyfriend paid for my time of the frame so the quilt was from both of us Smiley

A couple close-ups of the blocks:

This was my first time using a flange binding and although it was more work than my regular binding, I do like the little pop of color. You make it by stitching two strips of fabric together lengthwise for the binding, the part you want to be the flange should be wider than the other strip by about 1/4-1/2 inch. After folding in half to make the binding the flange side will pop out just a tiny bit! It's machine sewn to the back of the quilt and folded to the front and machine sewed down just like my regular binding method.

The quilt was a big hit and his mom cried a little bit when she opened it!

I still have another one in bright pink, bright blue, black, lime green, orange and white. Not sure when I'll finish it but I think that one will be for me Smiley
50  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Discussion: Ideas for Holiday Kids' Crafts and Activities on: November 26, 2013 06:32:23 PM
I do daycare for my nephews when they're out of school and am already making a list of what to do with them during the week of Christmas I'll have them. In the summer it's not as hard to entertain them, but I can't exactly make them play outside for hours at a time during winter Smiley Here are some ideas I have on how to entertain my boys during that week, please let me know if you have any more!

--Making wrapping paper like we did last year

--Embroider, I just got some new robot embroidery patterns and the boys love to embroider (or as they alternately have called it--knitting, quilting, sewing, and threading. They can't remember the word embroider Smiley )

--Gingerbread house (or rather, this year I found a Gingerbread train kit)

--Hanging our "tree," this year I am going to string lights on the wall in the shape of a tree and hang light ornaments from it. Thank you Facebook friend for the idea! Smiley

--We might even string popcorn to decorate with/pass the time since they can use needles now (even the 5 year old!)

--Making Ornaments, I found a box of ribbons and trims at the fabric store in clearance for $1. I'm going to cut tree shapes out of felt and let them glue the ribbons on to mimic garland. Also I have tons of other ornament ideas pinned, and lots of them here on Craftster!

Here's a few more ornaments we might try!

Ice skates with paper clip and felt

Trees with felt and ribbon/ricrac/etc
http://www.craftster.org/forum /index.php?topic=398871.0#axzz2kSsHWAym

Kid's drawings

Salt Dough ornaments

This would be easy, recycled Christmas cards. You could probably use Christmas wrapping paper reinforced with cardstock or cardboard too

 I think you could sub the styrofoam base out for something else (a piece of cardboard?)

Not so much crafty, but still sanity savers

--Going to Dollar Tree and giving them each $2 to spend

--Possibly riding the Max (light rail) out to the mall for lunch and adventures

--Walking to the park and playing (if it's dry out)

--Dance parties, turn on the music and boogie! Or, actually play Just Dance on the Wii.

Two of my boys busy at work crafting inside their pillow fort:
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