Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beach Blanket

Beach blanket -- measures 65 inches by 91 inches

We've been spending a bit of time at the beach this summer. Not quite as much as I'd like, but enough that I have a tan line. We have a couple of major events coming up this weekend that will require time spent sitting on dirt and grass. So, I used it as motivation to make a beach blanket. I've had it in mind for a while now, just needed something to push me over the edge into actually doing the work.

Believe it or not, I actually had this HUGE piece of fabric in my stash. It's from back in the day when I used to make purses.
Here's the steps I used to turn it into beach blanket:

1. Cut the fabric in half from selvage to selvage.
2. Cut each piece in half again, from selvage to selvage.
3. Sew two pieces together along the selvage edge. Repeat for remaining two pieces.
4. Open both pieces of fabric up, and place them with right sides together. Pin around the perimeter. The selvage edges should match on both short sides.
5. Sew around the perimeter, leaving a 12 inch hole for turning the blanket inside out.
6. Turn it inside out. Iron the edges for a smooth finish. Iron the opening so that it will close evenly with the rest of the edge of the blanket.
7. Sew a second seam about 1/4 to 3/8 from the edge. This will help it to have a more finished look even when wrinkly.
8. Sew several seams similar to quilting lines inside the center of the blanket to keep the two halves together.
I hope this blanket has many sunny days in it's future!

Worth the money

In my quest to make wonderful food, I've learned that cleaning up after my cooking tests and trials is getting more and more messy. Since I spend most of my time recently working on the art of bread making, my counter has that yucky flour cement stuck to it. I hate trying to get it off.

My favorite store has been advertising this mat and roller for quite a while. I'm a little behind the times because I hate to spend money on things that I won't use, or that are only good for one or two tasks. It has to be a multi-tasker because I don't have that much cupboard space.

With all of that in mind, I love my new mat and pastry pin. They are fantastic. I was worried that the mat would be too small. Not even close. It's huge! If it were any bigger I wouldn't be able to clean it in my sink. The rolling pin has little rings that you can stick on to make sure your dough comes out even and to the desired depth. Pretty cool!

Wait until you see some of the other gadgets I finally ordered. I've been drooling for so long over these things! It's been like Christmas in July!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Divide and Conquer

I decided that I really love posting about food. I also really love posting about quilting and craft projects. Not all people are interested in both however, so I've decided to divide the two topics of conversation into two different blogs.

You are in the right place for food! Lyme Ricky is my food devoted blog. Come and join me here for my recipes, tips and favorite cooking topics.

For my quilting, see my new blog:

I'll be posting all my crafty things there.

Hopefully, by dividing into specific topics, I'll gain more Internet friends rather than loosing the few that I have :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sourdough Starter

I got my stinky sour dough starter in the mail this week. I've never been so excited for something smelly before! I've nurtured it, discarded and nurtured some more. We've tried two different recipes so far -- mild and strong. The family voted for the strong version. I went back to read the recipe again and realized I'd missed a step. Hopefully I'll make it again soon and it'll be even stronger.

At first I was afraid of the idea to have another living entity to take care of in my home. Now, I'm learning to love this little guy. I hope to nurture it for years to come!

Fantastic Voyage Quilt

Fantastic Voyage measuring 65 X 65

I made this quilt for my mother-in-law to thank her for watching my kids for a week. I wanted her to have something special to help her remember just how much we love and appreciate her.
It was very unusual for me to do this kind of quilt -- normally I stick to traditional geometric shapes and patterns. Also, I use pastels and fruity type colors. So, this was stepping pretty far out of my comfort zone. As I worked on it, I kept asking myself, "Does this look OK?" or "Is this going to work???"

I think in the end it turned out very nice. The random patterning actually appeals to me now -- I think I'll be trying more like it in the future.

I like this quilt so much, I'll be putting a tutorial up in step-by-step form for you to use at your leisure. It will use pre-cut fabrics to make it even easier! Yeah! I love easy. I wish I had thought to use the pre-cut fabric before I cut all those little pieces by hand!

The Christmas Log Cabin

I started this quilt so many years ago it's hard to remember for sure, but I think I started it in 2003. I had this grand idea to make Christmas quilts for each of my siblings. Um. Yeah. Needless to say, that didn't happen. I just finished this quilt last week. So embarassing, but true.
Throughout the creative process on this one, I kept stumbling along. I think that's why it took so long to actually finish. I had trouble picking out the borders, the binding and the back. Christmas fabric that coordinated was often VERY ugly. Finally I found a combination that I think went together to produce a nice finished product.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Preparing for House guests part 2

Writing down a plan helps me to think through my grocery lists, plan for special events, or prepare for a week of meals with guests. So, I always sit and think through the problem. Sometimes the thinking through gets to be more fun than the actual work! I like playing with all the pieces of the puzzle and figuring out how to make it fit.

In preparation for our guests next week, I already put together the menu plan. Now it's time to work out anything I can prepare ahead of time, and spread it out over a few days so that it doesn't seem like so much work. I'm sure I'll modify it a little as I work through the agenda -- I always run out of ingredients and need to change the plan.

Here's a good start:

Tuesday(Eight days to go)
Pot Roast
Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Wednesday (Seven days to go)
French Dip Meat -- prepared and frozen
French Dip Rolls -- prepare the dough through the first rise. Shape and freeze.

Thursday (Six days to go)
Clam chowder -- prepared and frozen
Sour Dough bread -- fully prepared and frozen

Friday(Five days to go)
Prepare three batches of cheese bread and freeze after first rise.
Raspberry Turnovers -- prep to just before you bake them, then freeze.

Saturday(Four days to go)
Brown the hamburger for spaghetti night --freeze
Calzones -- prep to just before baking, then freeze

Sunday(Three days to go)
Chocolate Cherry Scones -- prep to just before baking and freeze

Monday(Two days to go)
Gorditas -- fully prepared and frozen
Cubed cooked chicken --fully prepared and frozen

Tuesday(day of arrival)
Final grocery trip -- purchase lots of fresh fruit, salad fixins, eggs, butter and milk

Now, during the actual visit, there are little things that you have to do to make the frozen food easier to use -- particularly where the bread dough is concerned.

The best way to handle it is to take the frozen dough out of the freezer the night before and put it in a bowl and rub it with oil. Put the dough in the fridge side and it will defrost overnight. At lunch time, pull it out of the fridge and roll it out. Let it rise for about two hours -- that's longer than normal because the dough will still be cold. Bake as usual.

For most of the frozen items it is best to follow that same plan -- put it in the fridge the night before so that it can defrost slowly. Then it should be defrosted by the time you want to use it the next day.

Planning for Houseguests

I LOVE having people come and stay with us. It gets us out the door and doing fun things. I enjoy the running around, trying to see everything in one week and enjoying the wonderful area where we live.

One of my favorite things about house guests is preparing good food for them to eat. Tasty meals and good friends are two of the best things in life.

However, the two favorite things often conflict. Making good food takes time. Time is short when you're trying to cram in all the adventures possible. So, to help things along I prepare as much a possible before the guests arrive.

Here's the menu plan for one week's visit:

Wednesday Breakfast
scrambled eggs
oatmeal cookie pancakes

Wednesday Lunch
clam chowder
sour dough baguettes

Wednesday Dinner
BBQ bacon chicken
cheese bread
peach pie

Thursday Breakfast
scrambled eggs
Peaches & Cream Scones

Thursday Lunch

Thursday Dinner
French Dip Sandwiches
small baguettes
strawberry shortcake

Friday Breakfast
scrambled eggs
chocolate chip cherry scones

Friday Lunch
hot dogs

Friday Dinner
Eat Out

Saturday Breakfast
leftover scones
scrambled eggs

Saturday Lunch
eat out

Saturday Dinner
spaghetti with meat sauce
cheese bread
Double Chocolate Layer Cake

Sunday Breakfast
leftover scones, pancakes

Sunday Lunch
snacks while driving

Sunday Dinner
Chicken Gordita Picnic:
cooked cubed chicken
Gordita flat bread
tzatziki sauce

Monday Breakfast
Raspberry Turnovers

Monday Lunch
Mystic Pizza

Monday Dinner
pot roast
mashed potatoes
cheese bread
warm chocolate melting cake

Tuesday Breakfast
Blueberry Muffins

Then sadly, a trip to the airport to send our guests back home. You can bet after all this food, we'll be eating leftovers for the rest of that week!

Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are great! Everything you look for in a muffin -- moist, tangy and full of flavor. The little touch of lemon adds a flavor boost and makes the blueberries taste even better.

Blueberry Muffins

2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon peel
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups blueberries
coarse white sparkling sugar for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with papers, and grease the papers.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light, fluffy, and almost white in color. Start the mixer at low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, then gradually increase speed to medium-high until the desired color and texture are reached.
4. Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Add the vanilla and sour cream or yogurt, and mix until incorporated.
6. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the batter is smooth. It will be thick.
7. Fold in the berries by hand.
8. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using a heaping 1/4-cup for each. Sprinkle with regular granulated or coarse white sugar, if desired.
9. Bake the muffins for 18 to 24 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a rack.
Servings: 12

BBQ Bacon Chicken

This is a family favorite. It's so simple, you can serve it to almost anyone and they'll like it. But, it also works great for guests because it just tastes so good!

BBQ Bacon Chicken

4 strips cooked bacon, diced
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup cheddar cheese grated

1. Place chicken in a baking dish.

2. Cover each breast with 2-3 tablespoons BBQ sauce

3. Crumble bacon and place on top of the chicken.

4. Top with cheese.

5. Bake covered for 35 minutes at 350.

6. Remove cover and bake 5 minutes more.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

OamealCookie Pancakes

This recipe comes from Rachael Ray originally. I modified it a little to fit our family's preferences for chocolate without nuts. Give this recipe a try -- it's a great way to get fiber into your kids for breakfast!

One tip -- with the brown sugar content, these can burn easily. Be sure to start your pan on low heat and increase the heat as necessary.

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 really ripe bananas, mashed up
3/4 cup chocolate chips
½ stick melted butter
Maple syrup or honey, for drizzling


Mix dry ingredients, the first 7, in a bowl.

In a another bowl, mix the wet ingredients, the next 4.

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, then fold in the mashed up bananas and the chocolate chips.

Stir in the melted butter.

Heat a griddle over medium-low heat and brush with additional melted butter.

Cook pancakes, each about 1/3 cup, until bubbles form on the top, then turn.

Cakes will cook in about 2 minutes on each side.

Keep pancakes tented with foil as they come off the griddle to keep them hot.

Serve with drizzled honey or maple syrup over the top. Yields about 24 pancakes.

Warm Melting Chocolate Cake

This recipe came in an email from Carnival Cruise Lines. It sounded good to me -- we'll try it for the first time next week.

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake

8 oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
7 eggs, divided use
6 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup flour

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt chocolate and butter; cool 10 minutes.
3. In separate bowl, mix four eggs with sugar.
4. Whisk. Add flour and whisk.
5. Add remaining three eggs.
6. Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture.
7. Pour in individual ramekins.
8. Bake until just done, about 15-20 minutes (interior will be melting).
9. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Chip Cherry Scones

I first tried scones a few years ago at one of those places where you put together dinners to take and bake at a later time. They were pretty good, but a bit dry for me. Since then, I've tried several scone recipes, but fell in love with this one. I'm so in love that I even passed on chocolate chip cookies last night in favor of scones -- unbelievable!

I think a good scone should have chocolate chips. Always love the chocolate. Also, I'm a huge fan of dried cherries. If you aren't, or don't have any on hand, dried cranberries will work too -- just swap them for the cherries in the recipe below. So I modified the beloved recipe to become this -- my favorite recipe for scones:

Chocolate Chip Cherry Scones

1 1/2 Tbs freshly grated lemon zest
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbs butter, cut into 8 or 10 chunks
3 Tbs sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cherries

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. With a vegetable peeler remove the zest from lemons and chop fine, reserving lemons for another use.

3. In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl.

4. Add chopped cherries and chocolate chips to flour mixture. Toss to coat.

5. In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

6. Shape scones as desired. Bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes, just until they start to turn a light golden brown.
NOTE: Dough can be frozen. I usually divide the batch into two halves and freeze the second half for another day.
Servings: 12

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fresh Peach Pie

This recipe comes from my husband's aunt. It's so good! The crust is one of the strangest things I've ever made, but it turns out so sweet and is a perfect companion to the fresh peaches.

I'll post some pictures after I make it tomorrow, but I wanted to link up the recipe to my Sunday Dinner menu plan today.

Fresh Peach Pie

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
14 soda cracker squares
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans(optional)
6-8 peaches
Whipping cream or ice cream

Smash the soda crackers into small bits and reserve.

Lightly grease the pie pan.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the egg whites until stiff -- about 5 minutes.

Gradually add the sugar, beat in on high, stirring constantly from now on

Add the crushed soda crackers.

Add the baking powder, vanilla and chopped pecans.

Place the batter into the pie plate and bake at 325 for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven -- it will be a light golden brown. Let it cool completely. The crust will seem gigantic -- about 4-5 inches tall. It will settle when the peaches are added.

Slice peaches into a bowl. Be sure to taste test the peaches -- add sugar if they are too sour.

Add the peaches to the crust. Top with whipping cream if desired, or serve with ice cream. If you're using Whipping cream, put it on top before refrigerating.

Either way, be sure to refrigerate for 4-6 hours before serving.

Sunday Dinner Menu

I'm preparing a big Sunday dinner this week for a friend and her familiy that are coming to town to visit. This is a great menu for guests, mostly because some of the preparation can be done the night before.

Here's what we'll be eating:

Cheese Bread -- once the dough is put together, and kneaded, place it in the fridge overnight. You'll only have to warm it to room temprature, roll it out, put on the cheese and let it rise again. Then bake just before the meal on Sunday

Pot Roast

Place all the items in an oven bag and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Pop it in the oven three hours before dinner and you're set!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

French Dip Sandwiches

My mother-in-law makes the best French Dip Sandwiches. We recently had her French Dips for Sunday dinner when visiting in their home. Wow! I really love the flavor of the meat in this recipe!

Sarah's French Dip

1 boneless chuck roast, trimmed(3 to 4 pounds)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 beef bouillon cube**
1 bay leaf
4 peppercorns
1 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
12 French sandwich rolls, split horizontally

Place roast in a slow cooker. Combine everything but the rolls and pour over the roast. Add water to slow cooker until roast is almost covered.

Cook, covered on LOW setting for 7 hours or until very tender. Remove roast, reserving the broth. Discard bay leaf.

Shred roast or slice very thinly. Place roast in rolls and serve with broth for dipping.

*** I think the next time I make it, I'll use a package of Au Jus mix instead of bullion to see if it gives a slightly richer flavor.