Friday, November 18, 2011

Incredibly Easy (and tasty) Risotto in 15 minutes!

Recently I was given the greatest gift! I've never even heard of it before, it's the Electric Multicooker from This is a great appliance for the kitchen. The browning function actually works to saute garlic & onion for this recipe. I'm still putting the appliance through its paces, but I've used the slow cooker to make BBQ chicken. The rice cooker worked well for this tasty risotto. It's creamy, cheesy and a perfect compliment for chicken and fish dishes.

I'm not sure how well the recipe will work in other cookers. This is the only rice cooker I have ever used, so experiment as instructed by your appliance. The instructions listed below are for the appliance shown here:
Creamy Gruyere and Parmesan Risotto
by 3-in-1 Electric Multicooker Recipe Book, but adapted by me
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup grated Gruyere Cheese (4 oz)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter and oil in the cooker on the brown setting. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and onion. Saute until you can smell the garlic -- about 2 minutes. 

Stir in the rice to make sure it's coated thoroughly. Pour in the stock. Lock the lid in place and set to rice cook. 

Once rice cook cycle is complete release pressure but allow the risotto to rest on the warm cycle with the lid on for about 5 minutes. 

Open the lid, stir in the Gruyere and Parmesan. Let it rest for about 3 minutes.

Salt and pepper to taste, serve immediately.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taco Soup

Big Batch Taco Soup
Here is my favorite recipe for taco soup. I really prefer the Old El Paso mild taco seasoning flavor, I think it's the best tasting of the prepared packets. 

I think of this soup as a dump soup -- you just dump all the ingredients into a pot and let it simmer until you are happy with the taste. This one is incredibly healthy and tasty at the same time.

Big Batch Taco Soup
ground beef, browned & drained
can (15 oz)
kidney beans
can (15 oz)
black beans
can(28 oz)
tomato, diced
taco seasoning
beef broth
Servings: 22
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/22 of a recipe (16.9 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Amount Per Serving
Calories From Fat (11%)
% Daily Value
Total Fat 3.79g
Saturated Fat 1.36g
Cholesterol 27.51mg
Sodium 1153.49mg
Potassium 1263.75mg
Total Carbohydrates 50.39g
Fiber 13.75g
Sugar 2.6g
Protein 22.49g

Wonderful pumpkin cookies

I don't even like pumpkin. Really. I don't. Having said that, these pumpkin spice cookies are amazing! My family loves them! Give them a try, you won't be disappointed!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall 2011 Quilt Festival Entry -- Schnibbles Plan C

My entry this fall is a quilt that is now residing in Copenhagen, Denmark. I made it as a thank you present for our host family. These wonderful people left town to let us use their home for a month. That is amazing kindness! Even more amazing if you consider I have never met them face to face.

71.5 by 71.5 inches tall

I used the Schnibbles Plan C design by Carrie Nelson and an April Cornell fabric line with white muslin.

I tried free motion flowers all over, but learned that my quilting was too close together to really see well once it was all washed and crinkly. Shucks! Oh well, live and learn.

I miss the quilt, but I'd trade it again in a heart beat for the wonderful trip and the great adventure. Thanks Anne & Jens!

I love the Bloggers Quilt Festival! This one of my most favorite times of the year. Click on the logo to join in the fun!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sugar Cookie Frosting

You can't have great cookies if you don't have a great frosting! Here's the one I learned from my mom:

Sugar Cookie Frosting
By Jan


2 Tablespoons  Milk
1 stick              butter
1 Tablespoon    vanilla
1 pound            powdered sugar
Dash                salt


Combine wet ingredients until smooth.

Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sugar Cookies

Back in college, I used to make these sugar cookies just to have dough in the freezer. There were times friends would even pay me money to make the dough for them to eat. It's my mom's recipe and I consider myself lucky that she's been willing to share it with me.

In addition to great tasting dough, these make the best sugar cookies I've ever tasted, very similar to a pink frosting cookie sold in stores.

There are two tricks to baking these cookies.

First, be sure to combine the butter & sugar and beat until very light in color. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Don't rush this step!!!!

The second important step is to take them out when they've just finished baking. If you wait until they turn brown, the cookies will be very dry and crumbly.

Sugar Cookies
By Jan


1 ½ sq.      Butter
1 cup        Sugar
3               Eggs
1 TBSP     Baking Powder
3 ½ cups   Flour
¼ tsp        Salt
2 TBSP     Vanilla


Cream sugar and butter together. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.

Add remaining ingredients.

Bake cookies at 350 for 6-7 minutes - do not over bake!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Books for Young Readers

A while back, I asked friends to give me a list of the books their children have loved to read. Here's a compilation of their recommendations. I haven't read all of them, but many of them are absolute favorites.

Good luck!

A Boat to Nowhere
A Wrinkle in Time 
Al Capone Does My Shirts
All-of-a-Kind Family
Amber Brown is Feeling Blue
Because of Winn-Dixie
Beezus and Ramona
Breaking Through 
Call it Courage
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 
Charlotte's Web 
Chronicles of Narnia series
Dying to Meet You
Ella Enchanted 
Emily Windsnap series
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch
Encyclopedia Brown Boy Detective
Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man 
Fairy books by Daisy Meadows
Fever 1793
Freak the Mighty 
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler 
Harriet the Spy 
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 
Hattie Big Sky 
How to Eat Fried Worms
Indian in the Cupboard
Island of the Blue Dophins
James and the Giant Peach 
Knights of the Round Table
Little Women 
Misty of Chincoteague
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
Mysterious Benedict Society
Nancy Drew Clew Crew books
Number the Stars 
Old Yeller Oliver Twist
Percy Jackson
Peter and the Starcatchers 
Rainbow Magic fairy books by Daisy Meadows
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 
Ramona the Pest 
Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution 
Saddle Club books
Seedfolks Shiloh 
Sister's Grimm Summer of the monkeys
Summer Reading Is Killing Me! 
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 
The City of Ember 
The Enormous Crocodile 
The Fairy Painting The Ghost,
The White House and Me
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 
The Indian in the Cupboard 
The Invention of Hugo Cabret 
The Penderwicks
The Princess Tales
Treasure Island
Tuck Everlasting 
Where the Red Fern Grows 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Plan C finished! Renamed Plan Copenhagen

Plan Copenhagen
71.5 x 71.5 inches

Finished June 2011

I started this quilt in July 2010. The fabric had been a Christmas Gift from Santa in my stocking, but it took a few months until I figured out what I wanted to make with it. This quilt is made from a pattern in the Schnibbles book by Carrie Nelson. Love that book! The pattern went together fairly quickly. I loved the way the stars started to pop out, even before the white was added.

Here you can see the quilt beginning to come together -- this is only one or two days worth of sewing.

After piecing together the top, I took a break for a few weeks. That always seems to happen to me -- borders must get me down! But, in mid-August, I finally pieced together the piano key border and the top was finished.

It was so large, my living room floor wasn't quite big enough to get a clear picture. The quilt sat in my storage room for months! I couldn't figure out how I wanted to quilt it, so I just left it alone. Then, I had grand ideas that I would finish all my quilts that are just sitting waiting to be quilted while I recovered from foot surgery. That didn't happen! They're still downstairs waiting to be quilted.

But, in May my husband was asked to go to Denmark to take a class. A wonderful family offered up their home as a place for my husband and his colleagues to stay for a month while they took their class. I am amazed at their generosity! This quilt came to mind -- to me it just says 'Denmark'. That's also why I changed it's name to Plan Copenhagen -- just seemed to fit. :)

So, I finally had a reason to push myself to finish it. I quilted it in the first two weeks of June and it was ready to fly to Copenhagen.

I stippled it with really tiny flowers and leaves. I have to admit, the quilting was not exactly as I like it. I did it really tight together, which makes it difficult to see the design. Oh well. Live and learn.

The quilt flew in my suitcase to Denmark and now resides in this adorable little house outside of Copenhagen:

This is a picture of the summer guest house out back. We actually stayed in the basement of the big house, but the guest house just looks so Danish I had to include it here. :)

Thanks Annie & Jens -- we had an absolutely lovely time! We loved every minute in your home and in your country. Thank you for being so kind to share it with us. Hopefully this quilt will help you to remember over time how much we truly loved it! Thanks!