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!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twin Quilts

I made these two quilts for family this Christmas. I tried out some new quilting, but forgot to take pictures of the quilting itself -- we had to hurry and snap these pictures before they got shipped off for the holidays.

Each quilt was about 68" square. I made it using the fabric line Snippets by American Jane.
I started the centers well over a year ago. I loved them, but didn't know what to do for the borders. It took months until I found the right combination of movement without too much distraction from the center. When I started the border I had no idea how much work it would take -- there are a lot of squares in that thing! I really think it works though.
I doubled up the batting for the first time as well. It made the blankets much heavier, each one weighed about 5 pounds when finished. I really like using 100% cotton batting because it breathes so well. And, I can't deny that the crinkles from the cotton just make me smile!
But, over time the blankets get pretty thin. I'm hoping that by doubling it up, they will stay much thicker.
Overall, I was very pleased with the final result. Hopefully they will be loved by their new owners.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thank you!

During the Blogger's Quilt Festival, I was fortunate enough to win a fat quarter pack of Thistledown from Jillily Studios. What luck! This is the first prize I have won in years!

Thank you Jill! I really appreciate your generous gift -- I'll always remember your kindness and the extra effort you put into my gift! Thanks!

I've been in love with this fabric ever since Jill showed it on her blog in September. The colors are just beautiful! I can't wait to put something together with it. Right now I'm leaning toward the design Twin Stars featured in the original Jelly Roll Quilts book. I haven't cut any fabric yet, I'm still making sure it's what I want to do.

Monday, November 8, 2010

100 blocks blog tour -- come see!

I'm always searching for new ideas and inspiration. This month, Quiltmakers 100 blocks volume 2 comes out -- what a great way to spice up my quilting life. As part of the celebration, there is a great giveaway series and fun blogs to visit. Come join the Quilty Pleasures blog tour and get some great ideas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mama Bear Quilt

Mama Bear Quilt

about 78" square
made with Hoffman and batik fabrics

Thanks to Amy for hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival -- what a great event! Here's my entry this fall -- my Mama Bear Quilt.

Several years ago, my sister's life was suddenly changed forever by a brain aneurysm and a previously undetected AVM. It was devastating to our whole family to have her struggle on the brink of death. We powerless to do anything. I was thousands of miles away -- with nothing I could do to help. Some days she was so sick, she couldn't even talk on the phone.

So, I did the only thing I could think to do -- I made her a quilt. As she faced months of surgery and struggles, I packaged all my love into this quilt for her. Every cut, stitch, and seam was made with her in mind. I made it long enough to cover her from head to toe -- at that point it was the largest quilt I'd made. It took some time, but I was finally able to send it to her.

My sister made it through. Today, you'd never know she ever faced such a physical challenge. Every day I'm grateful she's here and healthy. Words cannot convey how important she is to me.

Years later, long after my sister had recovered, she had it on her daughter's bed. It reminds me now that even when we think life is at it's worst, it can always get better and brighter.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Schnibbles progress

I've been out and about on vacation with my family for the last month. In the midst of all the fun, the Plan C quilt from Schnibbles is progressing nicely. As I've been putting it together, I'm perplexed at how I'm going to quilt it.
I want to improve my free motion skills, so I think I'll try something difficult. I just haven't decided how to do that yet. The quilt has such large spacing, but I want to highlight the stars at the same time. It's such a pretty quilt, I'd like to emphasize the design with quilting that will enhance the overall picture. I'm toying with the idea of trying feathered loops, inside each square with outline quilting and repeats inside the stars, but it doesn't seem exciting enough.
More thinking to come....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Schnibbles Plan C

I recently purchased the book Schnibbles Times Two and I'm in love!
The first pattern I decided to complete was called "Plan C". I've wanted a blue and yellow quilt to snuggle with on my bed, so this was a perfect pattern for April Cornell's Nature's Notebook by Moda. It incorporated stars as well as bright spots of blue and yellow to catch the eye.
I'm starting to see the potential for the quilt, but it's still got a way to go.


Our tomatoes are finally turning red! I picked some decent sized Early Girls today -- I love it when you're cutting up a tomato warm from the summer sun. It just makes them taste better somehow. We've had a bug eating our basil this year, but I was able to get a few leaves to use for homemade Bruschetta. Usually meant as an appetizer, our family eats Bruschetta as a meal on Sunday afternoons in the summer. When the tomatoes are ripe, I just can't get enough! The recipe says 16 servings, but my family of four usually eats about two-thirds of a batch when we serve it up as the meal.

Photo courtesy of


2 tomatoes, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
two 16-inch-long French-style baguettes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Stir everything but the baguettes and oil in a small glass or ceramic bowl, and let the mixture rest for at least 10 minutes at room temperature.

2. Slice the baguettes about 3/4-inch thick, on the diagonal. Brush one side of each slice with additional olive oil.

3. Place slices oil-side-up on a baking sheet, and broil (carefully!) just until the slices are lightly browned. Remove them from the broiler and place in a serving dish so that the bottoms don't get soggy.

4. When ready to serve, place about 2 to 3 teaspoons of the tomato mixture on top of each slice of bread.

Servings: 16

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/16 of a recipe (1.8 ounces).
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 108.86
Total Fat: 3.63g
Saturated Fat: 0.61g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 191.17mg
Potassium: 85.34mg
Total Carbohydrates: 16.13g