31 January 2012

Little Things To Sew-Along: Bear Carrier

I've signed-up for a number of "alongs", did you notice?  First the weekly:  Bake 52.  Baking something each week from "The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book".  Next, "Sewing For Boys" sew-along.  Sewing something monthly from the book by the same name.  And lastly, "Little Things To Sew" sew-along.  Also sewing something monthly from the book by the same name.  A personal goal this year, do more sewing/cooking, push myself a little.  Both are things that I really love, but I don't always make time to try new stuff.  So, I hoping that these "alongs", will help.

So, this month, our project was the Bear Carrier.  Hazel was the lucky recipient of this.  She was a little unsure what I was trying to do as I was strapping it around her to measure and snap pictures.  We'll see if she uses it.  Silas, on the other hand, asked me when I would be making one for him.  Maybe I chose the wrong child to sew this for?

Anyway, it's super cute, and really easy.  What a fun idea.  Let the kids carry a bear or doll around latched to their fronts... just like mom might do with a real infant.

I would recommend this pattern.  Can't wait to tackle the next project.  Hosted by a little gray.

Sewing for Boys sew-along: Raw Edge Raglan Tee

I REALLY loved this pattern.  Loved how the final product turned out.  Loved how easy it was.  Loved how quickly it came together.  Loved how much Silas also loves this shirt.  He might try to wear it daily, if I weren't so good at nabbing it to spray and wash after each of his wears.  Let's just say he's really good at getting it dirty, and really needing a good spray after each wearing.

Part of the "challenge" is to embellish the clothing item in some way.  So, since Silas' favorite color is green, I knew that at least some part of this tee would be green.  We also kind-a like Green Lantern around these parts (haven't seen the movie), so hence the embellishment.

I knew I had some scraps of white knit left-over from an ungifted baby nightgown made months ago, and thought it would be cute to do half the sleeves in white, as well as the collar.

Came together slick.  Made in just a couple of hours.  I need to make more of these.  I think a small one would be just so cute on little Oscar... maybe that will be my next project.

I would highly recommend this pattern.  Next month's project is either "Mr Two Face" pants or "Kickin' Back Sweats".  Can't wait.  Join us!  Hosted by boy, oh boy, oh boy.

25 January 2012

Bake 52: Light New York Cheesecake

Cheesecake.  Light Cheesecake.  Nothing wrong with that.  Well, except maybe that it still has calories, albeit less.

The tip for the crust:  use a measuring cup to help press it down, before par-baking.

This was another fun recipe.  I learned something new.  The recipe called for low-fat yogurt cheese.  I had never heard of yogurt cheese before.  Thank goodness for the side-note in the book of how to make your own.  It explained that 2 cups of low-fat yogurt could be placed in a fine-mesh strainer, lined with cheesecloth (I used multiple paper towels), and left to sit in the fridge for 10 hours.  The liquid drains, and your left with yogurt cheese.  Having never tried this before, I was a little nervous.  If it didn't work, what other options would I have?  Luckily it worked like a charm.  And luckily I had read previously about the 10 hours of needed drain time.  Here's what the yogurt looked like after the draining time...  kind-a like softened cream cheese.

Besides the yogurt cheese, there were two-packages of light cream cheese, and cottage cheese.  The whole cheesecake was combined in a food processor, until it was all smooth and well combined.  I've never made a cheesecake in that way.  Slick.

Then of course baked for over an hour, and allowed to cool for a couple of hours, and then put in the fridge to cool for 3 hours... so not really a dessert that can be made quickly, or in only 2 hours before a dinner party.

Overall I liked the cheesecake.  I think though, that if I'm going to have cheesecake, I would prefer the "real" thing.  I mean, if I was to skimp on dessert, I'll go for an orange or grapes or something.  If I'm having dessert, I'll take the full fat.  I wish it had been a little firmer, which could have been my mistake.  Maybe I should have cooked it a tad longer?  So, that being said, I doubt that I'll make this one again, but, I really enjoyed the process.  Thanks Talesha for picking this recipe.  Head over to her blog for the full recipe.

18 January 2012

bake 52: week 3... boston cream cupcakes

Amanda picked this week's recipe, (full recipe there).  When I saw what it was, I knew it would be a lot of work, a bit time consuming, but I was optimistic.  I really hoped that it would taste as good as the great picture from the cookbook.

It was a bit of work coupled with time... make the pastry cream, and let it chill in the fridge for 2 hours.  Then make the cupcakes... butter cut into pieces and softened, eggs at room temperature, beating the 12 tablespoons of butter piece by piece into the dry ingredients, creating moist crumbs.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, until combined, then add the milk, also at room temperature, and vanilla.  There were time notations on a lot of the beating instructions, which at first glance seemed a little excessive, but in reality, I think it was helpful.  Obviously it's easy to over-mix cupcakes, (and muffins), and end-up with a very peaked product, so I liked the specific instructions, with times.

Love that the cookbook said to use a greased 1/3-cup measure, to fill each muffin tin equally.  We did the same thing last week with the bran muffins.  It helped.  It made the cupcakes, and muffins, turn out a lot more even, as in same size, even.  Nice tip.  Thanks.

After the cupcakes are completely cooled, the tops are cut, hollowing out the center of the cupcake (in a cone shape).  Then the pointed end of the cone is cut, leaving just the top, so that it can be replaced, after the cream is spooned into the created hole.  (Funny how it said to cut off *and discard* the pointed end of the cone-shaped piece.  As if you'd *discard* the yummy cupcake, the center of the cupcake no less.  I of course saved those pieces, and Silas and I did a little quality control.  Had to be done.)

Then there's the chocolate glaze that goes on top of the whole cupcake, and allowed to drip down the edges.  Amazing.  Yet still, before you can try them, they go back into the fridge for 10 minutes for the glaze to set.  Time consuming?  Yes.  Worth it?  Every minute!

I would make these again.  You know, for something special... a friend's birthday lunch, etc.  (Can't think of any other reason or time that these might be fully appreciated, with all the time that's required.) But how fun to have individual Boston Cream Cupcakes for dessert.

 I did also appreciate that the recipe only made 12 cupcakes.  I was originally worried about having all these cupcakes hanging around, wanting to be eaten, and maybe eventually going bad?  No worries.  Twelve.  Easily disposed of.

11 January 2012

Bake 52: Bran Muffins

A couple of weeks ago I decided to join an online baking group... "Bake 52".   The idea is that for the year the group of us bake one recipe a week.  We then each post about the recipe.  So, on your assigned week, you get to pick the recipe that everyone will bake along with you, and post the recipe on your blog.
The cookbook we're using:

I didn't sign-up soon enough, so I missed the first week (Quiche), so here I am with week 2:  Bran Muffins.

I was a little skeptical about how these muffins would turn out.  When I think of bran I think of dry and heavy.  But I was pleasantly surprised.

When I think of bran I also automatically think they'd be really healthy, but the recipe has brown sugar, butter and plain yogurt in it, so not really "low-fat".

The recipe called for raisins, but mentioned that dried cranberries or cherries could be substituted.  So I went with craisins.

I really liked these muffins, I'll make them again.  My kids liked them too.  In fact I think these could be Bakery worthy with one minor change.  I'd leave out the craisins or raisins or dried fruit in any variety, and add some lightly sweetened cream cheese before baking.  Heavenly.  Wish I had thought to do this before... oh well, next time.

For the complete recipe, check it out here.