Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cranberry and Apple Casserole

This is a side dish, breakfast, or dessert (it's wonderful with ice cream!).  

If you have a surplus of cranberries, they freeze beautifully (just store them in ziplock baggies).  If using cranberries that don't come in the little bags, use 2 to 3 cups in this recipe.

1 package fresh cranberries, washed and picked
3 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix ingredients and pour into greased 9x13 casserole dish.

1 cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup flour
1 cup quick oatmeal
1/3 cup margarine, softened

Stir together sugar, flour, and oatmeal. Cut in margarine. Sprinkle on top of fruit. Bake for 1 hour at 300.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quiet Book

Because I have a very active 3 year old who is learning to sit in church, I decided to start a “Quiet Book” for her.  While it looks pretty rough, I’ve been pleased so far with the results and she adores it.  It’s a work in progress and I hope to add more pages as time goes by.  So far it’s been pretty easy. 

I’m using felt with fusible webbing (Wonder Under is a great brand).  I’ve learned that it’s best to also sew the pieces so that they don’t try to pull up when being played with.  I’ll give an explanation for each page/spread and what I would change.

Using felt has its pros and cons.  It’s so easy to use, it’s pretty cheap, and there’s no need to finish the edges.  Some of the cons include: it tears up pretty easily (this book will likely only last for one child, instead of the three I was hoping for! LOL), Wonder Under doesn’t work completely well with it, and there’s only one texture to it (though I did see some the other day with some texture for the first time but I didn’t feel like any of it would fit in with the book and it was pretty expensive).

I used a pattern for the shoe, corn, and flowers (Simplicity 3709).  There are some other cute ideas in the pattern but some of them aren’t so “quiet.”  Also, a lot of the pages online called for Velcro and I used snaps instead since Velcro isn’t exactly “quiet.”  The other pages were ideas I got online and designed myself (I’m sure you can tell!).  I used a number puzzle that the girls have to do the number pages.

As you will notice, I didn’t put a whole lot of details into this book.  There are two good reasons for this.  1.  I simply don’t have time and 2.  Josie is 3 and I’m pretty sure the details would be lost on her.  So for me, simple is better.   Feel free to embellish a lot more than I did!

Cover:  If you have an embroidery machine, I’m sure you can make yours much cuter than mine.  Obviously I don’t have one so mine is pretty bad looking.  But it serves its purpose.

Numbers Pages:  I learned the hard way that the numbers need to sewed down (Josie took them all off the page the first day she used it in church).  I was originally going to let her just match the numbers up.  However, I’ve decided snaps will make it more interesting.  This page still needs a lot of work:  I will add snaps and blanket stitch all the numbers down.  I made the moveable numbers two-ply with Wonder Under between the pieces (I will blanket stitch these as well).

Shoe Page: I used the Simplicity pattern for it and it was the first page I made.  I bought some eyelets that were very easy to install (and on sale the day I got them!).  I do, however, need to get a real shoelace so it’s more authentic.  The ribbon is not working well for teaching her how to tie.

Flower Page:  When adding buttons in the future, I’ll apply some fusible interfacing to the back of the page, then sew on the buttons through all layers.  They are already showing signs of pulling the felt apart.  I added a ribbon at the bottom of the page to thread the flowers on…I’m thinking it’s not necessary but it could be a good lesson on threading I suppose.  The stems are just some remnant ribbon I had.  The flowers are two-ply with Wonder Under between but one-ply might have worked better because they’re a bit difficult to button and unbutton.

Caterpillar Pages:  One of Josie’s favorites!  I ended up blanket stitching everything because they came apart during the first use.  This was another easy page.  The face on the caterpillar is just hand embroidered (and pretty rough, I admit!).  I could have put a lot more detail into it (each circle could have a number that she has to place in order, etc.).  I used gripper type snaps (installation requires a hammer and special little tool).  These seem to be more difficult for Josie to use and they tend to really pull at the felt.  If I use them again, I plan to add some fusible interfacing to the back of the page and install the snaps through all layers.  Sew-on snaps honestly seem to work the best (size 2/0 seems to be the best so far).  I added a “pocket” on the facing page for the pieces.  At first it seemed a waste but Josie really likes the pockets I’ve put in the book and she uses them!

Apple Tree Page:  Josie’s absolute favorite!  The apples are two-ply with snaps installed.  She loves the “basket” to put the apples in.  She informed me that she needed more apples so I hope to have some other fruit trees/flower trees/leaves on trees type pages in the future.

Corn Page:  This is the one page I wish I had embellished more.  It’s from the simplicity pattern and the pattern calls for some quilting on the corn itself and a tassel.  I also think different material would have been better than the felt.  Josie’s known how to zip for awhile so maybe that’s one of the reasons it’s not her favorite page.  I may try to embellish this page more but I may not.

To put the book together, I used large eyelets (the kit was pretty inexpensive and they are easily installed).  I wanted to be able to add pages as I made them so I used ribbon to hold it together.  Then I found two rings in my craft supplies so I may use them.  It’s not a “fancy” way of doing things but it works for us.  You could sew on a spine and make it look more professional.

These are some pages I hope to make:

Fish bowl with fish 
Butterfly with different shapes to snap on 
More trees with stuff to snap on 
Some more pages with buttoning and threading   

Here’s some of the places I receive inspiration:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole

I realize I’m late in posting this for Thanksgiving but thought I’d post it anyway. This recipe came from my dear friend Carol James. It’s the best sweet potato casserole recipe I’ve found so far and it’s my husband’s favorite. It’s sweet enough to be a dessert and it’s even delicious cold out of the fridge! You can fix the casserole the day before (including putting the topping on) and then bake it the next day.

You can use boiled sweet potatoes or you can bake them. My preference is baking them because it’s so much easier and the potatoes have more taste when baked (it also makes your house smell so yummy!). I place the washed potatoes (about 3-4 large ones for this recipe) in a 9x13 pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350 until done (1 to 1 ½ hours). Allow to cool about an hour and remove skins. Proceed with recipe.

3 cups sweet potatoes cooked and mashed (I usually do 3-4 large potatoes and it turns out to be more than 3 cups but I just follow the recipe as it’s written)
¼ to ½ cup white sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1 stick margarine or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional ingredients: 1 teaspoon salt and a few sprinkles of cinnamon

Mix together using an electric mixer. Spread into a greased pan (I usually do a large casserole dish or 9x13).

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 stick margarine or butter, cold

Stir together sugar, flour, and nuts. Cut margarine into sugar mixture. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until hot throughout.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Jello Salads, One "Fluffy" Salad

These are my three favorite sweet salads we usually make around the holidays.  Each are easy to prepare and taste wonderful!  

Grape Jello Salad   

Jello Layer: 
3 oz. concord grape jello 
2 cups boiling water 
12 ounces crushed pineapple with juice 
1 can blueberry pie filling   

Stir together jello and water until dissolved.  Add pineapple and blueberry pie filling.  Pour into glass 9x13 pan.  Refrigerate until firm.   

8 oz. cream cheese, softened 
1 cup sour cream 
½ cup sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla 
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)  

Mix everything except nuts together.  Spread on top of jello.  Sprinkle with nuts.       

Orange Cream Salad   

Jello Layer: 
1 ½ cups boiling water large orange jello 
1 cup cold water 
11 oz. mandarin oranges, drained   

Mix boiling water and jello until well dissolved.  Add cold water.  Stir in oranges and pour into 11x7 pan.  Refrigerate until firm.   

8 oz. cream cheese, softened 
1 cup sour cream 
½ cup sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla   

Mix everything together.  Spread on top of jello.        

Cherry Salad   

1 can cherry pie filling 
1 large can crushed pineapple 
1 can sweetened condensed milk 
8 oz. cool whip   

Mix together, cool, serve.    You can add some chopped pecans or walnuts.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Swedish Almond Puff (coffee cake)

This is one of those recipes that isn't really difficult and yet people think you're a gourmet cook!  I took this to Bible study yesterday and they acted like I had really slaved...and I didn't!  

1 cup flour 
1 stick margarine or butter, melted 
1 tablespoon water   

Stir until mixed.  Divide into two parts.  Pat on ungreased cookie sheet in 2 strips.   

1 cup water 
1 stick margarine or butter 
1 cup flour 
3 eggs 
½ cup sliced almonds   

Place water and margarine in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until melted.  Remove from heat.  Quickly stir in flour.  Then stir in one egg at a time.  Spread over two crusts.  Sprinkle with almonds.  Bake 375 for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.   

1 cup powdered sugar 
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla flavoring 
few teaspoons milk   

Stir together, adding milk as needed to reach drizzling consistency.  Drizzle on warm puffs.  Cut into pieces.   If taking these somewhere, do not cover tightly after you have iced them.  Cover loosely or ice them upon arrival.   These are good with walnuts and pecans too (use vanilla if you use nuts other than almonds).