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21  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Refrigerator Pickled Beets and Escabeche on: February 21, 2017 12:31:29 PM
I love making refrigerator pickled veggies! No canning to worry about and they are ready in a few days (note, they have to stay in the fridge and are not shelf stable because you aren't "canning" these)

I just made a couple of jars of pickled beets and a jar of escabeche (Mexican pickled carrots, onions, and peppers) that my boyfriend likes.

Start with clean quart jars or whatever size you like.

For Beets:

Roast or boil your beets, I used my Instant Pot because Instant Pot is the best. Scrub the beets, cut off most of the stems, and place in the Instant Pot on top of the trivet. Add one cup hot water and set for 35 minutes on manual. Let natural pressure release for 10 minutes before carefully releasing the rest of the pressure.

In the bottom of each jar add a couple of teaspoons of pickling spices (optional).

At this point I put on gloves and pulled the skin off the beets in a colander under running water. After this step I kept the gold and red beets separate to make sure the gold kept their pretty color. Slice or cut into chunks and add to the jars. (I also added a few sliced white onions to the golden beet jar since I had some extra room.)

For the liquid, boil 2 cups water, 2 cups vinegar (most recipes called for white but I used apple cider because I have a gallon of it. Works fine) 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt, and 1.5 cups white sugar. (change the amount of liquid you need for the amount you're making, just keep more or less to this ratio)

After it comes to a boil, carefully pour into jar over the beets. Seal the jars and leave on counter until cool, then move to fridge. Beets will be ready to eat in 4-5 days and last for several weeks.

For Escabeche

For 1 quart jar I think I used 4 jalapenos, 1 small onion, and 3 decent sized carrots. Plus a few whole cloves of garlic for the heck of it (warning, garlic may turn blue during the pickling process!)

Wearing gloves, cut the stems out of your jalapenos and pull out most of the seeds (if you want). Slice into rounds. Thinly slice your onion and peel your carrots and cut on the bias about 1/4 inch thick or just a little larger. Mix all together or layer each ingredient in jar. Add a couple of bay leaves to the side of the jar. Add a few whole black peppercorns too if you like.

For the liquid:

Boil 2 cups water, 2 cups vinegar, 1 Tablespoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon white sugar. Pour over vegetables in jar and seal. Allow to cool on counter and then move to fridge. Will be ready to eat in a few days and will last in the fridge for several weeks.

**Here's a delicious salad to use your pickled beets in (and the main reason I even bother pickling beets!)
22  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / Mini Art Quilt Swap Round 8!! on: February 20, 2017 12:28:36 PM
Swap sign-ups are open! They will close next Wednesday, March 8th at 6 pm Pacific!


I think we're on round 8? not sure if someone else got around to organizing one but the last one I organized was round 7 in 2013, whoa! (if someone knows of other ones in the interim please let me know so I can get the numbering right!) Smiley

So, let's swap mini art quilts! This is an easy going swap to make a mini quilt for your partner based on their likes. An art quilt can be hung on the wall or used as a table top decoration or be displayed in some other way. Piecing, foundation paper piecing, English paper piecing, embroidery, applique/reverse applique, beading, and whatever else your beautiful mind can come up with are all free game in this swap.

Basic parameters are to make a mini quilt in between 12 inches and 24 inches in any direction. So 12 x 12 ok, 24 x 24 ok, anything in between, a 15 inch circle, etc.

I match people up by self-described quilting level--so if you are a newbie quilter but want to join up, you can be paired with another newbie to help limit any possible swap stress!

I'm thinking a timeline of sign-ups around the beginning of march, a week or 10 days of sign-ups with sendouts in mid-late April? Sound ok?

Check out previous rounds here:

Links to Previous Swaps:

Mini Art Quilt Swap
Mini Art Quilt Swap Gallery
Mini Art Quilt Swap 2
Mini Art Quilt Swap 2 Gallery
Mini Art Quilt Swap 3
Mini Art Quilt Swap 3 Gallery
Mini Art Quilt Swap 4
Mini Art Quilt Swap 4 Gallery
Mini Art Quilt Swap 5
Mini Art Quilt Swap 5 Gallery
Mini Art Quilt Swap 6
Mini Art Quilt Swap 6 Gallery
Mini Art Quilt Swap 7
Mini Art Quilt Swap 7 Gallery

Quilt by playswithneedles for sloth003 in Mini Art Quilt 7
23  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Shakshuka/Eggs in Purgatory on: January 24, 2017 09:45:50 AM
This was my first time making Shakshuka or an Eggs in Purgatory style dish. It's basically a spicy, chunky tomato sauce with eggs poached right in the sauce. We served ours with some nice toasted sourdough bread but it would be great with any carby thing I think--polenta, pasta, potatoes. I don't claim that my recipe is in any way authentic, I took bits and pieces from other recipes and made it up as I went. I personally don't like chunks of cooked tomatoes or big chunks of other cooked veggies, so I diced my veggies up pretty small and used tomato puree instead of diced tomatoes.

2 T olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, finely diced
2 jalapeno peppers, finely minced, ribs and seeds removed
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 28 oz can pureed tomatoes
2 T sugar
1 T cumin
2 t paprika
1/2 t fennel seeds (add whatever other herbs/spices you like!)
1 t black pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t salt
8 cups fresh spinach
4-8 eggs

In a large saute pan or wide pot, heat olive oil and saute onion, peppers, and garlic until soft. Add tomatoes, sugar, and seasonings and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Taste and adjust salt, pepper, sugar, and other seasonings to your liking. When sauce has a flavor you like, add the spinach in* and stir until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Then make shallow wells in the sauce and drop an egg into each well. Season the tops of the eggs and then put a lid on for 5-8 minutes or until as cooked as you like. I prefer a runny yolk and think it was ready in around 6 minutes. Dish sauce and eggs into bowl and eat with your preferred carb. yum yum!

So, there are two of us and we each had about 1/4 of the sauce with 2 eggs. Tomorrow for breakfast I'll heat up the rest of the sauce and cook 4 fresh eggs in it.

Nutrition info for 2 large eggs and 1/4 of the sauce:

424 calories, 19 g protein, 24 g fat, 34 g carbs, and 7 g fiber

* I forgot to put my spinach in, before I put the eggs in, doh! I quickly threw it in a saute pan to wilt it down with a little garlic, salt, and pepper and plated it underneath the sauce. When I re-heat tomorrow I'll probably add some kale to the sauce. I think chard would be good too!

24  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 do 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.

25  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.
26  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!
27   / 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.

28  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.
29  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!

30  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / 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.

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