Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sewing Projects

I was blessed with my grandmother's sewing machine and little by little I'm learning to do lots of fun things with it.  I originally bought our little girl a pair of denim ruffle pants on Etsy, but she was ready for a bigger size.  I used the old pants as a pattern and turned them inside out to figure out how to assemble them.  I am so happy with the result, but also plan to make the ruffles a bit fuller next time around.  Also, no contrasting thread.  I thought it would be cute, but it was such a pain to keep my "white lines" straight.

My next project today was this simple peasant dress.  I found this tutorial and just scaled down the measurements to what I hoped would be an 18 month size.
I don't plan to have her wear them both at the same time, but it was easier to model both at once.  She wasn't feeling very photogenic tonight!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Granola Bars

I was just about to give up on homemade granola bars after three promising recipes resulted in dry, crumbly bars. Even Alton Brown failed me and I do love his granola recipe, but his granola bars were just so so. There were a few recipes that called for tons of butter and peanut butter and I knew that would make a moist bar, but it would be more like dessert than a good on-the-go snack. I stayed away from those and was about to give in when I came across a no bake recipe. Finally! It called for prepared granola (in my mind defeating the purpose of homemade bars), so I reworked it.

The recipe is very forgiving so I put several substitutions and options in italics.

Chewy Granola Bars
(makes 16 bars)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey (brown rice syrup or agave)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup flax seed (ground flax seeds works too)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sweetened flake coconut

1/2 cup golden raisins (dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, or any dried fruit)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds (pecans, cashews, or your favorite nut)

Combine brown sugar, honey, vanilla and butter in a medium-size saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat and simmer just a minute or two for the sugar dissolve.  You can let it cool before adding the dry ingredients so the chocolate chips don't melt, but I just dump everything because I'm a tad impatient.  Add oats, flax seed, wheat germ, coconut, raisins, chocolate chips and almonds to the melted butter mixture.

Spread in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan. Use a silicone spatula because it gets sticky.  Refrigerate for one hour or until completely cooled. Cut into bars.

Feel free to make a half batch if you don't want to over commit.  It fits in an 8 x 8 baking dish.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oatmeal Cream Cookies

By request, my first post has to be these oatmeal cream cuties!
Eat your heart out Little Debbie.  I was introduced to this recipe from a friend and they are my new favorite cookie.  Fairly simple, but insanely delicious!

For the cookie: 
2 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups old fashioned oats

Cream butter and sugars (really do this, until it's light and fluffy!).  Add egg and vanilla.  Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture.  Then add oats.   Bake at 375 F for 8 - 9 minutes.

I used a small scoop (maybe 1 inch across) and this made 60 cookies.

For the cream filling:
1 stick butter, softened
3 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
3 -4 TBS milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

You really need the butter soft for this.  Slowly add sugar to butter to combine.  I do it 1/3 to 1/2 cup at a time and do your best to get all of the sugar creamed into the butter.  Be patient.  Then add vanilla and milk to get a spreadable consistency.

For my last batch I pre-scooped all the dough and froze on baking sheets before putting in large freezer bag to store.  Now we can bake just a few cookies at a time.  I also portioned the frosting into three bags, so I can defrost a little at a time.


I am not a newbie to blogging, but our personal family blog is officially consumed by the cutest one-year-old ever.  Family and friends actually give me a hard time about posting recipes and home projects instead of pictures of the little one.  I see who has stolen the show! 

So here is my own personal space - a corner just for me.  I hope to share my recipes, craft projects, and whatever other artsy endeavors pique my interest.  Thanks for visiting my little corner!