Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Kitchen fun

Steve has had a class all week  and while he has been at school I've been trying to get my craft room configured to do everything I want to do:  make cards and paper crafting, embroidery and crazy quilting, quilting, garment sewing and work sewing.  Um, the room is 12x12.  It is a daunting challenge and I'm not sure I am going to succeed.  I will give it a try.

 I thought a break might be nice yesterday, so when steve came home yesterday we went out for a ride and to a very beautiful shopping place in north San Antonio.  La Cantera is a shopping place with top brand stores and grounds that are like a botanical garden, great place to shop and get in a couple miles of walking.  We did both.
I stopped at a kitchen shop and picked up this fun tool and then  at Barnes and Nobel,  new cookbook:

Both of these were only 9.95 each so I felt like I got a bargain.  

I have kitchen aid attachments  for  pasta sheets, linguini, tagliatelle and something that looks like a square spaghetti.  I also have an Atlas hand crank I can make  homemade ravioli with but nothing  that can produce a tube style.  With this gizmo, I can make Gnocchi and a few different hand rolled tube styles.   I had the old style kitchen aid pasta extruder and I think I threw it out.  It was a total waste of time and money.  If you are thinking of purchasing the old style, I would say keep saving for the new one and watch the reviews. 

Homemade pasta is so delicious and can be good for you, I use whole grains and add spinach and other things to make it yummy and nutritious.  a few nights ago, I cooked up a batch of boxed pasta and while the dinner was great, the pasta was noticeably deficient taste and texture wise. 

I purchased this book mainly for the wonderful pictures and sauce ideas, over 200 recipes.
It was in the bargain section at Barnes and Nobel.

And while I was sorting my craft room I came across this cook book for my Vitamix. Yay!

All  has a great tutorial on making homemade pasta

this is a simple art with a little bit of effort and practice you will have a delicious meal for you and your family!  It is worth the effort!!

Thanks for stopping by,
Ginny M

Monday, August 29, 2016

Facebook tomato sauce and home made ketchup revisited

Steve came across what looked like a great recipe for a fresh tomato sauce on pasta on  Facebook yesterday.  I thought this would be great too and wanted to try it.  Basically, all I needed were a couple of fresh tomatoes and a box grater.  I couldn't remember if I packed my box grater or left it at the house.  If I didn't have it I knew I had a single sided grater that would do the same job.
All you had to do was grate the fresh tomato, add olive oil and basil and then toss over pasta.  Easy!

I thought I'd like to add some sauteed zucchini and mushrooms to the mix.  Salt pepper, onion powder, olive oil.

No box grater so I got this greater out- total failure, it wouldn't even cut the tomato!

Next, try a food mill

This went from bad to worse. 

I ended up with tomato juice

So I went to the drawer and found the dullest knife on the planet and hacked the tomatoes up

We don't usually eat at 8:30 pm but due to travelling and a last minute menu , tonight we did.
No homemade pasta tonight, but store pasta  was pretty good and the sauce ended up tasting great!

Tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, salt, pepper, onion powder, basil and a little Orrington Farms Broth Base chicken stock powder to taste.  A nice fresh sauce and it would have been super fast if I hadn't gone through so many kitchen tools!  Next time the tomatoes are going in the Vitamix!

I use Orrington Farms Broth Base powder because it has no MSG or high fructose corn syrup and it has a great taste.  I buy mine at Walmart, they are 3.00 a jar and last a long time.

No Back to my homemade Ketchup recipe. I took it off the blog because after it staying in my fridge it developed a texture we didn't like.  I tried another recipe and while it was great at first , after another day it wasn't so great.  My recipes were similar to other ones I've seen and I just wasn't satisfied.  The one I used long ago when my kids were small must have been different, I thought I was using the same one. 

 So my sincere 
apologies if anyone has tried it and felt they ended up wasting ingredients.

I still needed and organic and healthier alternative  so I tried a commercial brand:

I found this in the organic section and thought why not, I will give it a try.\
This gets 5 stars, it is delicious and the ingredients are pretty good.  The flavor is much richer and more complex than regular ketchup and the price is good.  we loved it so much.  I think I will quit trying to make my own for a while.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great day!
Ginny M

Friday, August 26, 2016

Mocha Maca Afternoon Power Drink - YUM!

Since giving up sugar and sweetened drinks, (hot or cold )  I have found myself not having that 3pm slouch time.  You know that fatigue where you hope you don't fall asleep in the middle of something and embarrass yourself. I did find that I really wanted some light a calorie pick me up.  Eating every 3- fours hours has helped with blood sugar issues ( they are gone ) and I find I feel better in general and let's face it,  if you are like me you like eating.
 I don't have any intention of eating foods that are blah and tastes,   if you are eating food that is Blah and bland, you really need to look at what you are eating.  Real food tastes good and is very satisfying.  Forget the "diet foods" low cal or low fat.  Get off the sugars and start reading about clean whole foods, you will lose weight and feel revitalized.  You will WANT to eat less and be able to afford to eat better.

Right before I got off of the sugar treadmill I started drinking Starbucks coffees - I still do just black and Now I love it - but before that, I was starting to get a little hooked on the wonderful drinks with vanilla syrup and cream.  My afternoon coffee at home would be a vanilla coffee, 2 sugars and lots of whole milk, maybe two, and if I was working I'd drink it just about all day long.  I had thought about hooking up one of the hampster water feeding bottles to my sewing machine and just load it up.  So Let's just say, I loved my coffee.   Fast forward 3 months later and I am free of it - the addicting properties of the sugar and drinking black coffee around two - just one.  Well, I brewed up a little concoction this week, I call it a Mocha, Maca power drink.  It is a delicious drink and a small meal/snack replacement, PLUS it is good for you, real good! it is simple with no added sugars and the cost of this is about 40 cents per serving - my water bottle - calories about 60.

Here is my recipe 
 You will need to use a blending machine, I use a Vitamix, but you can use anything that will break down ice. 

Add the following into your blender
1/2 frozen banana
1tsp protein powder
1tsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp maca powder 
10 oz water
3-4 ice cubes
Blend till the ice and banana are liquefied.   
Included links to the products I buy (not sponsored)

There is only a hint of banana flavor, it reminds me of a protein powder that I used to love called "Click"  it had a great taste and it was really expensive - I just loved that rich coffee and chocolate flavor.  I stopped drinking not because of the cost but because of the artificial sweeteners used in it.  Kind of like shooting yourself in the foot.  
This shake has no dairy and no added sugars 

I thought to take the picture after I drank it.  
maybe that is a better testimony!

There is a lot of info about the value of Raw Cocoa  and Maca powder and worth your time look it up and to read it  I came across it Maca powder on by the advice of my friend Tammy:

Just look at my beautiful friend Tammy and her husband, I look at them and think they know something I don't and I think I need to find out what it is! 

 I won't tell you their ages but I guarantee this is a picture of health, beauty, and good nutrition.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you try this, so good for you!!
Ginny M

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Homemade Pizza! Fast and easy

If you have a bread machine ( I think every busy family should have one) You will love making this pizza!  Of course, your don't have to use a bread machine you can just knead and let rise by hand.

I made this Pizza using the 2 lb recipe and leftover grilled vegetables and chicken
and instead of a red or white sauce I generously brushed it with my Balsamic Dressing.

Recipe From te Cuisinart Bread machine cookbook:

I used my  cookie sheet pan withSilpatpat mat - no sticking and a greatr crispy crust.  I would prefer an outdoor brick oven and as soon as we buy a house out here in Texas and Steve builds me one I'll have to stick to my not so nice, fluctuating temperature oven.  

After I stretch the dough out to fit the pan - I am sure there is an easier way of doing it than my way - but  it gets to where it needs to be. Bake for about ten minutes at 425. Then  I layer the dough with whatever leafy greens I have in the fridge.  With this Pizza, I used a spring greens salad mix. then I added leftover roasted vegetables, Mushrooms chicken  and

 (here s a little secret) - I added a large can of diced tomatoes.  I drain the can and rinse  it thoroughly.  In a bowl, I add a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a healthy dose of dried basil ( fresh would be even better), salt and pepper and let the tomatoes sit.  I start these when I have the dough in the machine so it gives them a good hour to marinate, they taste fresh and delicious. 

I brush on more dressing and then place in the oven till the crust os golden, with a mat I can peek under the crust to make sure it is done .

We  try to avoid cheese - this pizza does not need it.  You could add it if you would like. 

This is actually pretty low in calories.  The whole pizza would be about 1600 calories and if you cut it into 6 pieces  that would be 266 a slice of whole grain, whole food pizza.

Try it you will like it!
Thanks for stopping by!
Ginny M

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fabric Swatch Books Tip and a Very Fun Store

Last week Steve and I went to a terrific store in Austin called the Austin Creative Reuse Center.  This place is a crafter's paradise!  Everything was so incredibly priced it was hard to use self-control!!  But I did, no worries about being deprived, I bought a shopping cart filled and it came to $20.71.  These were great items all clean some new some not new but everything was in perfect condition

 I bought fabrics and beads and a 48x60 rug kit!  I didn't even go down the paper crafting section.

one of the things I purchased were a dozen fabric sample sets.  These were 25 cents each!

 These are filled with gorgeous pieces fo fancy fabrics, perfect for crazy quilting!
there is only one problem using these, they have a stiff paper backing.  A machine needle will go through them but hand sewing is a different issue.

I tried two methods of removing the backing - and if you have a stack of these you might already be doing this - or this will be a great tip! 

First method: water soaking

well, it worked but it was way too tedious and messy.

So I on another piece I placed my hot iron on the paper and gave it a steam shot: 

That worked perfectly, the paper lifted right off!!

Here is a block going in a swap for "Fall"  it is all ready for stitching and embellishing

It is a mix of the upholstery fabrics and cotton.

Here is the stash to go on it

I'll have this done in a week or so and I'll post the block.  I know my "tip" might be old new to some, but If I had known how easy it was to take the backing off, I might have purchased more samples!

Have a great day and put something beautiful of yourself into it!
Ginny M

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Homemade Ketchup

I've finally gotten around to making a homemade ketchup.    I've been planning on doing this for some time then  last night I read my name brand ketchup label and said that is it! Time for me to make my own!

Here is the label that I read:

When I eat ketchup, it is only a portion size that is more than enough, Steve likes more than a portion and young Steve likes half a bottle.  When you look at this label you can see this will quickly  add up to a very bad for your health condiment.   4g of sugar equal 1 teaspoon, so if you are an average ketchup connoisseur, you will eat 3 TBS of ketchup per meal which equates to 1 Tablespoon of sugar per meal.   According to Foodbeast com the average American eats 71 lbs of ketchup per year.  That is a whole lot of hidden sugar -  about 23lbs a year!!

So in an effort to eliminate fructose and sucrose (processed sugars) in our diet (commercial ketchup also has high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup in it , I won't even go into that here)  I thought I would give making my own a try.

Let me tell you , this was simpler than simple.  I will share how I did it and the basic recipe, you can tweak it to your families liking.

what you need:
A blender of some type
2 cans tomato paste
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar   2-3 TBS Raw honey 
                                                            2 TBS Molasses                                                                 
( I always use raw local honey for the wonderful natural stuff the bees put into it- not very scientific but that would also be another post too)
1/2 tsp salt
1/tsp black pepper
1 TBS onion powder
1 pinch each Basil, Cloves Cayenne
1tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1 pinch chicken stock powder (look for one without msg)
about 2/3 cup water

All of the above ingredients will need your  tastebuds to adjust.  I like ours a little thick so that it stays on the food,

throw everything in a blender and mix
I mixed mine on #3  in my Vitamix.

That is it, we reused our old ketchup bottle.  Cost: about $1.20 for this large bottle

Hardest part was getting my photo model (DH -Steve) to cooperate

So give it a try, chances are you already have everything in your pantry!

Thanks for stopping by!
Ginny M

Friday, August 19, 2016

Stitching a butterfly Applique

I stitched up a butterfly last night as a bit of an experiment.  It may be turned into a brooch or go on a crazy quilt. I wanted to see if I could improve my stitching by using a thinner needle and more patient stitching, I think it is improved.  When I had an embroidery machine, I could produce a butterfly  in about 30 minutes this one took about 4 hours.  Machine are great, I love hand stitching. the green things are pins holding the butterfly!

Last Months:

I used Buckram as the ground cloth, It worked well other than bending two needles!

I used a rubber stamp and stamped the image with a waterproof  Archival ink

I used a small 5" hoop and handheld it

 Stem stitch with 4 ply cotton  to make the  outline.  I wanted a good strong line that would hold when I cut the butterfly out

The interior Stitches were Split stitch with 2 ply cotton

For the wings, I used 2 ply Rayon with a silver shot.  I used short and long stitch for this area

The black body  is 2 ply cotton in stem stitch

I finished the edges with seed beads, cut the butterfly from the ground cloth, glued the edges under and attached to black felt

I may run a wire through the wings and keep the wings dimensional

Next time I think I won't use beads but instead, satin stitch the outer border and use french knots.  That is one of the fun things about the craft, there is always room for experimentation!!
Thanks for stopping by!
Ginny <

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Delicious snack bread

I've been working on making a delicious snack bread.  Something for a quick pick me up afternoon snack or a breakfast on the go.  I love to have a nice relaxed breakfast but it isn't always possible.  I do make breakfast a morning priority,  along with other good eating habits, I brought my A1C's down from the beginning  of type two diabetes to well within normal limits.  That dark ring from the base of my neck that signifies  pancreatic problems has also disappeared.  I am very careful about eating processed food ( I try not to) and I limit sweets.
This recipe is worth the effort and it's taste is its own reward!   

This is something Steve and I both enjoy .                                 

      There is a lot of information on how wonderful these grains are for you.  We love them, they taste is great and they are so good for you!

The cost of these grains is minimal, these three bags  represent  14 loaf's worth of bread.  The cost of each of these bags is $6.00, $8.00, $9.00.  The cost of one loaf is $3.42.  I cut 10 servings from each one.  So this is a healthy snack for about 32 cents a serving.  you can't by a chemical bar, candy bar or pack of snack crackers in a vending machine for .32 cents!

     I grind the grain in my Vita-mix,  this takes about 45 seconds.

Chopped blanched walnuts, these are so tasty  

I add raisins and cranberries
Here is the end result, a dark rich sweet bread, you don't even need butter!

you are welcome to copy and paste this recipe to give it a try, I've put it in Jpeg format

                      I hope you give this a try, Homemade treats are the tastiest and the best for you!
Thanks for stopping by!
Ginny M