Monday, February 25, 2013

Stripey Cardigan

Knit up this quick stripey cardigan for baby Alex using leftover scrap yarn.  These three colors, also used for Alex's vest and about a thousand other projects, seem to be never ending.  I am actually done with the blue, but more orange and green still remain.

Used the Little Coffee Bean sweater pattern, knit in the 12 months size, but with short sleeves. I added in a double stripe of blue a couple times to keep it exciting.  I cannot tell you how many additional ends that meant weaving in, but it was worth it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jeni's Salted Caramel Ice Cream: Meh

Hmm... while this ice cream looks kinda awesome, it was unfortunately, meh.  The recipe receives the thumbs up from neither Tim nor I.

I have successfully made salted butter caramel ice cream before and loved the recipe (from my fav, David Lebovitz), and yet I found myself tempted to try this recipe for salted caramel ice cream that I stumbled upon on The Bitten Word.  The methodology differs from the Lebovitz way in that it does not acquire its thickness from an eggy custard, but from an intriguing combination of cream cheese, corn starch and corn syrup.  Plus the internet is full of raves about Jeni's ice cream, a popular ice cream shop in Ohio and Tennessee.

It wasn't very hard to pull together, but we just plain did not like the results.  Too bitter (maybe I prefer the larger amount of sugar called for in the Lebovitz recipe?), too weirdly cheesecakey from the cream cheese (it's hard to believe that "cheesecakey" could be a bad thing, but here it is), strangely sour (maybe from boiling the milk?).  Sad...

We tried to jazz it up with some caramel sauce (Simply Recipes' version), but to no avail.  Oh well... live, learn, stick to the tried-and-true basics when it comes to ice cream.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Coconut Energy Bars

I keep seeing all of these copycat energy bar recipes floating around the internet lately... many different variations on the same theme

nuts + dried fruit (usually dates) + extra flavorings x a quick zip in the food processor = 
raw energy bars similar to Larabars

I thought these might be a good grab-and-go breakfast option for me and Tim.  We've been exercising in the mornings before he heads to work and I start my work-from-home routine, but since we're not very good at getting up early, there's not a lot of time in between for a sit down breakfast of any sort.

I decided to use this recipe for chocolate and coconut flavored energy bars.  Unfortunately, it was a bit of a bust and required much troubleshooting to achieve the ultimate product.  The recipe calls for dates (Medjool, but I used Deglet Noor, which perhaps was part of the problem), nuts (almonds and walnuts), dried unsweetened coconut and cocoa powder.   The ratios (dry to wet) seemed to be off for me, though, as my final product was much too dry and very crumbly:

I had to almost double the amount of dates in order to get a sticky enough consistency to form the bars.  Plus a couple tablespoons of honey, just in case:

In the end, we liked them ok, but we want to try one of the other recipes for a different flavor combination.  I think I was hoping for a little more chocolate flavor myself.  I'll definitely give it another try.  Perhaps chocolate chip?  Or peanut butter chocolate?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Toddler Overalls

Ug, these came out cute, huh?  Little adjustable overalls for Zoe...

Made using this downloadable pattern (Jody Baby Overalls) from I Think Sew.  The pattern was pretty easy to follow.  I had to wrap my brain around the waistband construction a little bit- inserting elastic in just the back part and attaching the pants took some thinking, but it came out well in the end.  I made just one change: rather than install loops on the front bib to which you knot the straps, I made buttonholes and then sewed 3 sets of buttons onto the straps to make them adjustable.  Hopefully it works!

I used some cute grey, flowered quilting cotton from Joann Fabrics. I had ordered it online when it was on sale and when I got it, I found it to be a little bit heavier/stiffer than I would have liked, but it was perfect for overalls, which need a sturdier fabric.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Baby Bloomers

I saw this new free pattern for baby bloomers from See Kate Sew last week and knew I had to give it a try.  With one pattern piece and only 1/4 yard of fabric required, why not?

I used some beautiful Amy Butler fabric that I had leftover from these Big Butt Baby pants I made for Zoe a few months ago.  Maybe Zoe and Baby Dos can wear matching outfits? 

Also, a pair made from the leftover scraps from my '60s looking Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank:

They're pretty cute on their own, but even cuter on a baby, so be sure to check out the action pics on the original blog post at See Kate Sew.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Adventures in Challah Stuffing

One half batch of my favorite challah dough... two loaves of challah stuffed with various delicious ingredients... two explosions in my oven.

First:  almond stuffed challah.

I got the idea after impulsively buying a bag of almond meal (finely ground almonds).  I thought that maybe I could make a filling for the challah that was reminiscent of the sugary almond paste that they put in those buttery, delicious almond croissants.

I made the filling according to this recipe and wrapped it into my usual no-knead challah dough.  Apparently I didn't wrap it tight enough, though, because after a few minutes in the oven it looked like the explosion you see below:

Luckily, all of that sweet, toasted almond shrapnel was pretty tasty, and a good amount of the filling stayed in the bread, creating a subtle swirl of almondy goodness throughout:

Second: spiced apple stuffed challah.

This one was to use up some Malang apples I had sitting in the fridge... I wanted to follow this recipe from What Jew Wanna Eat because I found her blog title and premise to be really hilarious, but I worried that the raw apples wouldn't cook sufficiently inside the bread and I wanted to make sure the spice flavors came through... so instead I sauteed 2 large peeled and diced apples in a teeny bit of butter, a couple dashes of cinnamon, a sprinkle each of cardamom and nutmeg, and about a tablespoon of honey.  Then I wrapped them up in the remaining challah dough, braided it and stuck it in the oven, at which point, you probably guessed, it exploded.

This one didn't have as much leakage as the almond challah, but was still bursting (literally) with apple pieces.  Tasted pretty damn good, though.

The next day it was a little soggy from the moisture of the apples, but a quick warming in the oven took care of that.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gathered Top

I recently made a wearable muslin version of Butterick B5356, a pattern I got back in the States over Christmas.  I thought it looked comfy and flowy, good for Jakarta's sweaty weather. Used some crazy bright green fabric from the Real Martha that makes me feel like I should be sipping an iced tea on the lanai with the Golden Girls... in a good way.

It came out pretty cute, although the neckline is a bit conservative.  I think it would look nice with an embroidered yoke, kinda like a Mexican peasant top, or a lace or sheer yoke like the sample on the Butterick website:

I rolled the dice and made one size smaller than the pattern suggested for my measurements, as it seemed like the pattern had a lot of ease.  It worked out well- I think I would have been swimming in the larger size.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Baby Set

Made this cute knit set for Baby Dos with yarn Jamie gave me for Christmas (Lily Sugar n' Cream in Butter Cream, which I think would be better named "Sherbet").  I started with the "Pretty Baby Sweater" pattern, which was interesting- top down, raglan style, but the methodology was a little different than other similar style sweaters since the sleeves were knit before the body.

I still had yarn leftover, so I knit a hat next, based on this pattern. Rather than just do seed stitch for the brim, I mimicked the pattern from the sweater and knit several rows of seed stitch followed by a knit two together, yarn over row.  Otherwise I followed the pattern for the number of stitches and the decreases, etc.

Finally, since there was yet again yarn left, I did some mittens, too.  I used this pattern, but rather than a ribbed band I did seed stitch and then the knit two together/yarn over row.  Also added a chain stitch connecting cord that can go through the sleeves of the sweater:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Quilted Toddler Peacoat

Somehow I stumbled on this blog, Small Dreamfactory, a few months ago and saw that the site offered several free printable sewing patterns and tutorials for baby and toddler clothes.  In particular, this quilted toddler jacket caught my eye... freaking adorable.  I decided I had to make one for Zoe.  It's a size 2-2T, so I am hoping she can wear it this spring and again it the fall.  

When I was back in the States I picked up some double-faced quilted fabric at Joann Fabrics, knowing I couldn't find that type of fabric here in Indonesia.  I ended up with a cute print covered in graphic apples and pears on one side, with thick red stripes and more fruit on the other side.  Black double fold bias tape and some buttons was all I needed after that...

The directions on the blog were not crystal clear, but I was able to muddle through pretty easily.  I could ignore many of the instructions for quilting your fabric and lining it since I had the double-faced quilt fabric already.  The only extra preparation I had to do was to add the seam allowance to certain sections of the pattern and then carefully trim the batting out from those seam allowances as the Real Martha recommended so that the seams were not super bulky (which was really important since I decided to do french seams.  I had a bit of trouble easing the sleeves into the armholes (I did those with french seams, too, following the tried and true tutorial for french seam sleeve insertion at Grainline) and I am not the best at applying the bias tape to small curves, but in the end it looks pretty good!  I love how nice it looks with the coordinated lining.  If I was a little more experienced I might have been able to make it so it was reversible.  Next time...

New York Bagel Casserole

 Tim and I got up early to watch the Super Bowl again this year.  And while I love traditional Super Bowl snacks, cheesy dips, spicy chilis and other decadent treats, those are not as appealing at 6:30 Monday morning, which is when the Super Bowl airs live in Jakarta. 

 We opted for a hearty breakfast casserole instead, care of my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook: big, seed-coated bagel chunks dotted with cream cheese, eggs, onion and tomatoes, baked to perfection... mmm.

My only complaint is that my casserole seemed a little bit under-seasoned, although I think that is a result of the Jakarta bagels (which are fine and I am thankful we have bagels at all, but they pale in comparison to the NY bagels we ate when back in the States both in texture and in toppings)...  I should have added more salt and possibly some garlic to compensate. 

Deb from Smitten Kitchen suggests pairing the casserole with capers, salmon and/or bacon.  I am thinking that next time maybe I might mix some combination of those things into the casserole itself, which might help my seasoning problem.  

By the way, I made a half recipe of the casserole in an 8" x 8" pan and it worked out just fine!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Franny's Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Frosting

Back in December, Amy and I had been texting back and forth about chocolate cake recipes.  She wanted to know if I had any favorite and/or family recipes for chocolate cake... the first cake I thought of off the top of my head was this super moist chocolate cake with fluffy, marshmallowy frosting that my great aunt, Franny, used to make for every family birthday party when we were kids.  I thought Amy might like it because of the ethereal, marshmallowy frosting, since she can, on occasion, down an entire bag of marshmallows without blinking.

I got the recipe from the Real Martha and passed it on to Amy, who made it almost immediately (her photo above).  Amy and her family thought it was quite tasty, although they said it was better the second day, strangely enough.

Sadly, my great aunt Franny recently passed away... in her honor, I decided to make her cake to bring to a party we were invited to here in Jakarta last week.  She probably never would have guessed someone would be making her recipe literally acoss the world.  The cake was awesome and won raves at the party; everyone asked for a piece di bungkus (wrapped up) at the end.

Below is the recipe, although a word of warning if you live in a humid climate:  this frosting does not fare well in the heat and humidity.  I didn't know this, so Tim and I took the cake on the road, trying to walk it the 5 blocks from our air-conditioned apartment to the party.  Bad plan... the frosting literally melted off the cake, pulling away from the sides and liquidizing.  Oops!  It still tasted good, but the consistency was a little bit off.

Moist Chocolate Cake

Step 1:  Sift together:

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp cocoa  

Step 2: Make 3 holes in the dry ingredients.  In one put 2 tbsp vanilla extract, in the second put 2 tbsp white vinegar and in the third put ¾ cup vegetable oil.

Step 3: Pour 2 cups water over top and mix well

Step 4: grease and flour cooking pans (either two 9-inch round cake pans or one 9”x13” rectangle pan)

Step 5: Bake at 350◦F oven, 30 minutes for 9 inch pans or 40 minutes for 9”x13” pan 
Fluffy White Frosting

1 cup sugar
½ cup water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp corn syrup
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Step 1: Heat first 4 ingredients slowly to boiling and cook without stirring to 212◦F or to soft ball stage. (My candy thermometer is not super reliable, but I looked up other similar recipes and one stated that you should cook it until you saw "thick, clear bubbles.)

Step 2: Pour over beaten egg whites.  Beat with mixer until fluffy, billowy and shiny (about 5 minutes).