Thursday, September 29, 2011

Aunt Joyce's Pie Crust

Pies, pies, pies!  I dabbled in pie-making in the past, and, frankly, decided it wasn't for me.  The pie dough recipes that required cutting butter into the flour, etc. fascinated me, but I never had much luck with them.  My pie dough would turn out too tough or just plain wasn't right. So I had resigned myself to not being a pie maker.  My Great Aunt Joyce always made the most beautiful pies, so one day I got her recipe.  What a difference!  The dough is so easy to make and so easy to work with.  And, it turns out great every time.  I guess I am a pie maker!

Aunt Joyce's Pie Crust (makes 1 two-crust pie)
3 cups flour
dash salt, optional
1 cup canola oil (only use canola!)
1/2 cup water

Heat oil and water in pan on stove top until it just comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, place flour and salt (if desired) in large bowl.  After 15 minutes, pour oil and water into flour and mix with a fork until dough comes together.  Roll out between sheets of wax paper.  For fruit pie, bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Tip:  if you are going to use this for a one-crust pie like pie such as pumpkin, place the dough in your pie pan and flute edges.  Place in the freezer for at least one hour.  This will prevent the dough from slumping when you put the filling in.

Start out with canola oil and water.  Aunt Joyce insists that it has to be canola oil.  I don't know why--but if Aunt Joyce says it, that's what I do.  You will need one cup of canola oil and one half cup water for each two crust pie that you plan to make.
Place your oil and water in a pan on the stove and heat until just boiling.  Remove from heat and let sit for fifteen minutes.  I use this time to prepare the filling for the pies.
Measure out three cups of all-purpose flour and put in a bowl.
When your fifteen minutes is up, add the oil and water mixture to the flour and mix with a fork until blended.
The dough will have the consistency of play dough.
Divide the dough in equal parts and roll out in between wax paper.
Peel the waxed paper off the top of the dough.  With the wax paper still under it, place your hand underneath and flip the dough into the pie plate.  Peel the wax paper off of the top.  Build up the edges a little.  Then remove any extra dough that you don't need.  If you end up with any cracks or holes, just patch it together and press.  That's why I love this dough!
Add filling and dot with butter.  I use about two tablespoons per pie.
Now to make it pretty!  Aunt Joyce always had these flowers stamped on her top pie crust.  When I mentioned it to her, she gave me with this pie stamp.  I love it!
Roll out your top crust.  I put three stamps on the top.  You have to press pretty hard to get the design nicely imprinted in the dough.
It should look like this.  This is the pretty side that should be on the top of the pie.  So, place the wax paper back on top, flip the dough over, and peel the wax paper off the back.
Now you are looking at the bottom of the top crust.  Place hand underneath wax paper and put the dough on top of the filling.  I never get it perfectly centered, but it looks good anyway!
Seal and flute the edges; then sprinkle with sugar.  We ended up with little too much sugar on top of one of the flowers, so it didn't show up as well when then pie was baked.  Also, you can see a small amount of liquid coming out on the left side.  I should have put a pan underneath my pie in the oven to catch drips.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown and yummy.
Then enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Looks like it was a hit!

Apron Making

I get so excited when I finish a project.  I finally got the buttons sewed onto Anna's apron yesterday.  When I found the flip flop buttons at Walmart, I was pretty excited that they would match the fabric I had already picked out.  Hopefully I can wait until Christmas to give it to her!  I got started on Maddie's yesterday as well and will post pictures when I finish it.  I love this apron, and the pattern is fairly easy (although I still end up having to redo things because I don't always read as carefuly as I should!).  You can find the pattern here: Kids Four Corner Apron,  All this sewing for my girls has made me think that my boy should get something for Christmas that I have sewn.  So, I have in mind an idea for a "manly" apron for him.  I found some really cute dinosaur fabric to use.  I'll post it, also, when I'm through.  For now, it feels good to cross another project off my list and put Anna's apron in my gift bin!
Okay, so I was all excited to get Maddie's apron done today.  I couldn't wait to come up and take a picture.  To my dismay, I noticed that when I sewed on the strap, I incorporated a twist!  I'm sure I have made this mistake before--will I ever learn?!  It will not be hard to fix, but it was still a bummer.  So, Maddie's apron will be done soon.  Since the coordinating fabric was fairly busy, I opted not to sew a button to the flaps on the top of the apron and pocket as I did Anna's.  To help the flaps to stay in place, I hand-stitched the corner of each flap to the fabric underneath.
Looks like it was a hit!

Quick Church Night Supper

The kids have AWANA on Wednesday nights.  They have to be there by 5:55, so that means I need to make supper early.  I should be starting supper by 4:30 at the minimum, but sometimes that doesn't happen.  Last night was one of those times.  What were we going to eat?  Then I had an idea taken from a recipe my mother-in-law makes.  I simply started a box of wild rice on the stove.  In the meantime, I thawed about two cups of broccoli in the microwave and a half-pound of cooked ground beef that I had frozen previously.  When the rice was finished, I threw in the broccoli, ground beef, about three quarters of a cup of cheese and heated it through. 

With some grapes on the side, I had a fast, one-pot meal.  Lois, my mother-in-law, does this with roast beef and peas.  Her roast beef has some onion seasoning on it which lends the dish some wonderful flavor.  As it was, my dish was a little bland.  We added some soy sauce, and it was a hit with the kids.   I'm thinking that using a package of beef or chicken-flavored rice instead of just the long grain and wild rice would boost the flavor as well.  You could use any combination of meat and frozen veggie that you like.  Hope this comes to mind for you when you need a meal fast!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Appliqued Hoodie Towel

Looking for a fun Christmas or birthday gift for a child?  Then try appliqued hoodie towels!  Anna, my three year old, always wants to use her little sister's hooded towels after bath time.  However, the hoods on those are made of washcloths and did not get her hair dried very well.  So I found a site that used a hand towel to make the hood.  After I had made one, I had my seven year old try it out.  It was plenty big for her, so I dedided to make one for each of my kiddos for Christmas this year.  To see how to assemble the towel, check out this link: Hooded bath towel.  You will need two bath towels and one hand towel to make two hooded towels.
I found these towels at Target. I used a solid color towel for the bath towel portion and a striped hand towel for the hood.
Cut your hand towel in half.

Center the hand towel on the bath towel with the raw edge upwards.  You will be looking at the right side of each towel.  I ended up putting the edge of the hand towel "inside" the edge of the bath towel.  Then the seam is towards the child as he or she is using it.  Sew with the bath towel up--be sure you catch the hand towel in the seam all the way across.  One tip: I found that when I centered the hand towel exactly on the bath towel and then sewed, the hood did not end up centered because the hand towel would stretch slightly.  So, I placed the hand towel about a half inch closer to the side I would start sewing on. This resulted in a reasonably well-centered hood.  I have to remind myself, too, that my kids are not inspecting their things nearly this closely, and the towel will work regardless!

 After you have sewn the first seam, fold the towel right sides together.  Pin the top edge and straight stitch across.

 Now you have made a hooded towel.  This would be a great place to stop for a quick gift.  If you want to invest some more time and energy, then let's applique this bad boy!

 I found a font that I liked and printed it out on cardstock. This is Kristen ITC, 350 font in bold.  I print it outlined (find this option in your font selection on Microsoft Word) so that I don't use so much ink.

Cut out the letters.  I found it helpful to place an "F" on the front side of each letter.  Then I am sure to keep track of which side is which.  I labeled a ziploc bag with the font used and stored the letters in there in case I want to make some more in the future.  I also drew a frog and a flower on cardstock to use above each child's name.

Apply Wonder Under to your fabric.  Trace the letter backwards (put the side with the "F" against the Wonder Under) and cut out.

Iron on to your towel.  After doing this a couple of times, I made sure to use lots of pressure and ironed for a few seconds past the maximum time.  This flattens the towel out and makes it easier to sew on.  Now you can choose how you want to applique this on.  I found one site the recommended a straight stitch about an eighth of an inch inside the fabric.  The fabric sticking out then frays with use.  Looking back, this would have been a much faster way to do it.  I liked the look of a zig-zag stitch.  Also, I had chosen some fabrics that were much the same color as my towels, and I needed the contrasting color of the thread to help the letters stand out.  (More on that later!)

Stitch around your letters and any other design you would like to add.  I used a zig-zag stitch with a .1 stitch length.  To be honest, it took me a lot more time than I thought it would.  After doing several, I am getting a bit faster.  I am glad that I have two children with just four letters in their names, however!  If I were to do it again, I would pick a bigger, fatter letter with less of those little jutty-out things like you see on the top and bottom of the "E."  It was hard to get around those and still have them look good.  Slow and gentle curves are much easier!  I do like this font, though!

Here is Lyla's.  The material that I used to make the letters was very similar to the color of the towel itself.  This made it hard to see the edge as I was going around curves.  If I had a contrasting material, I could use a thread that matched the material.  Then my sewing mistakes might be a little less noticible.   And whatever possessed me to do "Annabelle" instead of "Anna"?!  I will post her towel picture when it is done.  I ran out of thread!  If you decide to zig zag, be sure you have plenty of thread if you are doing a nine letter name!  All in all, I have been having lots of fun with this project.  I hope you do, too!

And here it is--the nine-letter name!  I had finished the letters and had about a petal and a half to go on the flower when my bobbin thread ran out.  I had a small amount of thread on the spool, definitely not enough to get more on the bobbin.  I looked everywhere to find more of the right color thread and struck out!  Finally, I had a brainstorm.  It was not important to have the bobbin thread match exactly!  So I loaded some similar-color pink into the bobbin and was able to just finish the flower with my thread.  Then I used a different colored thread to do the middle of the flower.  Another project in the gift bin--hooray!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Breakfast Burritos

Do you, like me, not always look forward to getting out of bed and making a filling breakfast for your family?  Well, try some make-ahead breakfast burritos.  I socked a bunch of these away in my freezer that are ready when I need them. I put 22 eggs and 3/4 cup milk into a glass pitcher.  Getting the yolks all broken and mixed up well was a challenge for me until I discovered how well my immersion blender did it.  As a bonus, your three-year-old can help--Anna was quick to join in the fun!
Throw your eggs into a large, non-stick skillet and add a pound of cooked sausage.  When the eggs are just about set, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups grated cheese.  If you are an onion or pepper fan, I would just dice some up and saute it before adding to your eggs with the sausage.  I don't have many onion fans in my house. 

Once your eggs are done, lay out several tortillas and place a small amount of filling in the middle.  Fold the ends toward the middle and roll up.  You could customize how big your burritos are by the size tortilla that you use.  These are about a 10 inch size, and my recipe made 20. 

Once they are rolled up, secure with a square of press 'n seal.  You could also use aluminum foil.  Place in a freezer ziploc bag, and store until ready to use.  To prepare, thaw overnight in your refrigerator.  In the morning, place one burrito in your microwave on a paper towel.  Microwave on high 30 seconds; then flip the burrito over and microwave another 30 seconds.  (You may need to experiment with how much time is needed with your microwave.)  Let cool for a bit, add salsa if desired, and enjoy!  What could be better than that?
Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stuffed Crust Pizza

Do you enjoy making homemade pizza?  Well, next time, try a new twist and make it stuffed crust!  Simply roll out your dough as usual.  Instead of building up the sides to make the crust, continue to roll the crust out thin and flat, about two inches farther than usual.  I use a pampered chef pizza stone, and I rolled my dough to the outside edge.  Place string cheese about an inch from the edge, fold the dough over the cheese, and pinch closed.  Add your sauce and toppings and bake as usual.  Yum!

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