Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have made a lot of different chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years, but these are by far my family's favorite!  I have made them so many times that I have the recipe memorized.  Recently, we were in Colorado at my husband's parents' vacation home, and of course we had the need for some homemade cookies.  They looked so pretty on the counter that I thought I'd better get a picture so that I could share the recipe here.

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, slightly softened  (see note)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 small box instant vanilla pudding (3.4 ounce size)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour (see note)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
2 cups chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugars, and pudding mix for 2-3 minutes in electric mixer.  Meanwhile, mix flour, baking soda, and salt if using.  Crack eggs into a separate container and add vanilla.  Add to butter mixture and mix until well incorporated.  Gradually add flour mixture--I add about 1/3 at a time.  Finally, mix in the chocolate chips.

Use a medium cookie scoop to scoop the cookies onto parchment-lined (or slightly greased) baking sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 11 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges.  Leave cookies on cookie sheet for five minutes or so before removing to rack or parchment paper to cool completely.

Note:  If your butter is very soft, you may need to chill the dough for a while before baking.  For high altitudes, add 1/4 cup flour.  Also, if the cookies spread more than you would like, increase the flour a bit the next time or chill dough a couple of hours before baking.  I like to scoop the dough into balls first and store in a container in the fridge.  When I'm ready for cookies, I simply place the dough on the cookie sheet and bake away!

Hope you enjoy this family favorite!

There are many different flavor variations for this recipe.  Please see this recipe for details!
Saturday, January 30, 2016

Homemade Taco Seasoning


Almost every Tuesday is "Taco Tuesday" at our house.  I love it because, well, I love tacos.  Also, I don't have to think about what we are going to eat for supper that day!

I have adapted my recipe for taco seasoning from this one here.

1/2 cup chili powder
1/8 cup onion powder
1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons oregano
1/8 teaspoon each cayenne pepper and chipotle pepper powder, optional

Place all ingredients in mason jar with a lid and shake well. I use a heaping tablespoon per pound of meat and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water; adjust to your preference!

To make chicken for tacos, I place frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot, add seasoning and some coconut oil (about 2 Tablespoons for 3 pounds meat), and cook on high for 3 - 3 1/2 hours.  Then Ishred the chicken in my Kitchenaid mixer and put it back in the crockpot on "warm" until we are ready to eat.  I like to make extra and freeze it for a later time!

This is also delicious with pork.  Simply place pork roast in crock pot and rub seasoning (heaping tablespoon per pound) on the roast.  Then cook on high for four hours.  Reduce heat to low and cook for three to four hours longer.  Remove bones and shred in the mixer!

For a paleo meal, enjoy some taco meat on top of spinach or other greens and toppings of choice for a yummy salad.

Perfect Pile of Pancakes!


My kids love to have breakfast for supper.  I usually make breakfast for supper on a Thursday or Friday, and I make a big bunch of pancakes or waffles and some scrambled eggs.  Then I save the leftovers for Sunday breakfast.  This really cuts down on my crazy as we are trying to get ready for church and out the door!  The picture above is a double batch of pancakes.  These freeze great in a ziploc bag.  To serve, thaw overnight in the fridge and then toast.

My kids have not loved pancakes until I got this recipe from my good friend Amber.  She brought some over for me when we welcomed little Jack into our family.  Of course, I requested the recipe straightaway!  My kids enjoy these with either peanut butter or chocolate spread in between two pancakes--then they eat them like a sandwich with no syrup.  It's a lot less messy for my three year old!

If you like gadgets, you might want to check out this batter dispenser from Amazon.  We love ours!  My kids are pretty eager to help out with it!

Here's Evan, my gadget-lover, in action!


Here's the recipe:

Perfect Pancakes

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil  (I prefer melted butter, but canola oil works well, too.)
2 cups milk (I usually add a little less because I like a thicker batter; just adjust to your preference)

Preheat griddle.  In a mixing bowl, beat eggs until bubbly.  Add oil or melted butter and milk and mix well.  Then add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.  Using a stick of butter, grease the griddle.  With a ladle (or batter dispenser if you are a gadget guru!) place small circles of batter onto the griddle.  These will spread a bit, so start smaller than you think you need to.  Cook until bubbles form on the top of the pancakes, then flip and cook about two more minutes or until done.  Enjoy with syrup or as pancake sandwiches!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Homemade Orange Julius



So . . it's been a while since my last post.  After having baby number six, blogging has definitely been on the back burner.  However, when I made Orange Julius for the kids to enjoy during our family "Movie Night" last Sunday, I decided to snap a quick pic so I could add the recipe.  Hope you enjoy!

Homemade Orange Julius

6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (I always use 1/2 cup)
1 - 2 teaspoons vanilla (I always go with 2)
About 4 cups ice or to taste

Place all ingredients except ice in blender and blend until smooth.  Add ice slowly and blend on high until it is the consistency that you would like.  Note:  when I make this, I almost overflow the blender.  You may need to hold the lid on!  Also, it's easy to get an ice cream headache with this if you drink it too fast, so beware!
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bandana Skirt Set


I have had the pictures for this post for quite a while, but I knew if was going to take me a long time to type it up.  I have made several of these outfits to sell at a craft fair and also for gifts, and I think they are so cute!  You can make them anywhere from a size 6 month up to about 4T.  I will try to make these instructions as clear as possible.  If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comments, and I will try to explain the steps better!

To start, you will need the following:

1.  Child's T-shirt in the size and color you want
2.  2 bandanas
3.  5.5 to 6.5 inches of border fabric
4.  3/4 inch elastic
5.  Wonder Under or Heat and bond light fusible webbing
6.  Totally Stable iron on stabilizer
7.  Optional but nice, "Over the Back Fusible Interlining" for the back of the applique
8.  Fray Check
9.  Basic sewing skills and tools, ie thread, rotary cutter, etc.

All seams are 3/8 inch allowance unless otherwise noted.

Prewash all your fabric before beginning.  Next line up your bandanas, right sides together, as best you can.  I use this chart to figure out how long to make my skirts.  I prefer to make the skirt about an inch below knee level so that they last a little longer.  For sizes up to 2T, I add a 2.5 inch border.  For bigger sizes, I add a 3 inch border.  You want to allow 1 1/4 inch for the casing and 3/8 inch for adding the border at the bottom.  Therefore if I cut my fabric the same length as the amount given for the finished length of the skirt, I get the length of skirt that I want.  So, if I am making a size 12-18 month skirt, I will cut the bandana 8 inches long width wise.  (Measure from one of the finished edges.)

Line up  your border fabric, folded from selvage to selvage, and cut a 5.5 inch strip for 2T and under or a 6.5 inch strip for larger sizes.  Fold it in half the long way, right sides together, and press.  (I don't have a picture here or this exact step but you can see what it looks like in the next few steps.)


Pin together the bandana pieces, right sizes together, and sew the sides of the skirt.  You do not need to finish the edges since they already are!  The cut edge will be the top of the skirt, and the finished edge will be where you attach the border.

Press seams toward the back of the skirt.


To attach the border, line up the edge of the border with the bottom of the skirt, right sides together, 3/8 inch from the seam line on one side of the skirt.  Pin and begin sewing a few inches from the seam line.  Make sure the unfolded edge of the border is lined up with the finished edge of the skirt bottom.


Continue sewing until you are a few inches from the seam line again.


Stop sewing at this point and remove the skirt from the machine.


Line up the remaining border and make a small mark where the border fabric overlaps itself 3/8 inches.


Use a rotary cutter to cut the extra border fabric off.


Unfold the border fabric from both sides, place it right sides together, and sew.  (This is hard to explain but will make sense once you do it.  Go slowly and unfold and line up edges as you go along.


Remove from machine and fold the seam inside the border flat.  You can press if you want, but I usually just use my fingers.


Line up the two seams as closely as you can.  I like to have one seam pointing one way and one the other to reduce bulk.


Finish sewing the border to the skirt.  Then use an overlock stitch or serger to finish the edge.


Press the seam toward the skirt and top stitch about 1/8 inch from the border to hold in place.  I use a 3.0 stitch length.


Now for the casing.  I like to use this Straight Folding Template to help fold the top edge of the skirt over 1/4 inch.  Then fold it over an additional 1 inch, press and pin in place.  I just print the template out on card stock--looks like I am about due to print out a new one!


Then top stitch close to the edge around your casing, leaving about 1.5 inches open to put the elastic through.  


Cut 3/4 inch elastic to the length specified in this chart, and feed it through with a safety pin.  Overlap the elastic about one inch and secure with a zig zag stitch.  Make sure that you do not twist the elastic at this step.  Top stitch the opening closed.  Make sure to pull the fabric flat as you do.


I like to add a label on the back with a size.  I use printable fabric paper to design my label.  I cut it out and iron the edges under about 1/8 inch.  I have found that, even though the instructions say to hand wash, the labels hold up for quite a while with regular washing.  For the size, I use white ribbon and iron on transfer paper.  See this tutorial for more information on label making.  Center and attach label to the back of the skirt using a small zig zag stitch.  (Tip:  use thread that matches your label for the top stitch and thread that matches your skirt in your bobbin for the back side.)


Now it's time to applique a design onto the shirt.  Simply iron on some Wonder Under or Heat and Bond Light to the backside of your leftover bandana fabric.  Trace your design (make sure it is backwards for something that is directional like a powercat) and cut out.  Remove paper backing and iron onto the front of the shirt as per package directions.  I fold the shirt in half and iron to help find the center.  Iron on Totally Stable to the back of the shirt and sew around the edges of the fabric with a tight zig zag stitch. I like to also apply Fray Check all around the edges of the fabric before I stitch it on.  Allow to dry completely before beginning to applique, or your stabilizer will rip.  I will usually use a 3.0 - 4.0 stitch width with a .3 stitch length.  See this post for more on appliqueing and using a template to position a powercat.

I have also started using an over the back fusible interlining after appliqueing to help those stitches be more comfortable against the skin.  I cut out a piece just slightly larger than the applique and iron it on using steam and the temperature for synthetic fabrics on my iron.

And you are done!

Here are a couple of other examples of skirt sets I have made.




Hope you enjoy this project as much as I have!




Saturday, May 16, 2015

Anna's Dress


I'm not sure how this little girl is already seven!  We celebrated Anna's birthday last week.  This week, she wanted to wear the dress I made for her birthday, and she wanted her hair curled, and we went to the park.  The result?  I followed her around for a while trying to get a good picture of her.  Thankfully she cooperated with me pretty well.  I kept telling her not to move while I was taking the picture, and at one point she asked exasperatedly, "Can I breathe while you take the picture?"  Oh my, I see a lot of myself in this one!

My in laws bought me a serger for Christmas this year.  I was excited to try it, but also intimidated, so it sat in the box for a couple of months.  Well, I finally got brave and took it out of the box and started sewing with knit fabric.  I am falling in love with how fast it is to throw something together!

This dress is Greenstyle Creations Regan Dress, and I absolutely love it.  It is a great project for a beginner.  The pattern is easy to put together, and the instructions are very clear.  So far I've made five of them for my girls and for a gift, and I will make some more this winter in the long sleeve option, I'm sure.  You just cut out five pieces, and then you are ready to go!

The only thing I did differently was to top stitch around the collar after I ironed it.  I serged the edges of the bottom of the dress and the sleeves before turning under one inch and then top stitching.  I hope to get brave again and try out my double needle soon for hemming!




I highly recommend this pattern if you are new to knits or just want a quick project.  I really like Greenstyle Creations and have several additional patterns to try out soon.  I will post pictures when I do!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Powercat Onesie with PJ Pants



So the day is fast approaching for our new little guy to be born.  Which means that I am frantically nesting.  For me, that includes cleaning every nook and cranny and sewing madly on different projects that I think I will never finish once the baby comes!  It's probably a good thing we are having another baby, because I'm pretty sure I hadn't cleaned out our bathroom cabinets since I was pregnant with Grant!

I finished up this onesie and pj pants set yesterday.  The pattern for the pants is found here and is really quite simple.  I do cut the front of the pants a little lower than the back--about one inch or less.  Tip:  when you do this,  put the legs pieces right sides together to make sure you are cutting a mirror image (ask me how I know this!)

To applique the powercat, I followed my usual steps as outlined in this post.  I also ironed this product on the back so that it won't irritate baby's skin.  His Christmas present is ready--now on to the next project!

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