Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fantastic Sangria - Alcohol optional

In high school, I was very involved in a class called ProStart, which in a updated version of the culinary side of home ec. I competed in several Iron Chef type team competitions, and got to get my picture taken with Keegan from Food Network Challenge.
Ah. The perks of high school.

Some other activities in class involved catering.... a lot of catering. So, when my mother asked me to make some things for a colleagues retirement party, I said sure... I'm not doing anything else.

I spent the next several days relizing that I was enjoying all of that doing nothing...

However, I got to try out some pretty great recipes. And when else am I going to have a reasonable excuse to make 96 mini-cupcakes?

I'll show pictures of some of the baking I did later, but I wanted to share the terrific, easy punch recipe I'm using.

Red Apple Sangria
courtesy of Martha Stewart (but I made it a lot less work)

1 bottle of Apple Juice (2 quarts, but trust me, the big bottle in the store is 2 quarts)
1 quart Orange Juice (4 cups so you don't have to look it up)
1 cup Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Grenadine (check next to the liquor, or just steal the liquid from a jar of Maraschino cherries)
1 Orange, sliced thin
1 Lemon, sliced thin
1 Apple, you guessed right, sliced thin
1 Bottle of Sparkling White Grape Juice (it's there, not just at the holidays, you just need to look up in your local juice aisle)

This recipe makes about a gallon, so make sure you are using a big container... Or learn the hard way, like me, and run out of room for your orange juice.

Now, pour the apple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, and grenadine together, and mix. Or slosh around. Either way.

Then, layer on the fruit. If this is not being used immediately, stop here. You want to add the sparkling stuff right before you serve, or there will be no zing in your Sangria.
(Doesn't all the fruit make it pretty? It tastes better than it looks)

When you are finally ready, go head and pour in the whole bottle of the Sparkling White Grape Juice.

 (Now, I am underage, so I feel funny recommending adding any sort of liquor to this, but if you are -ahem- of age, or at least pretending to be, a bottle of wine,  a bit of rum, or any sort of citrus liquor would not be out of place in this punch.)

Enjoy! I'll post more of the recipes I used as I get time :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Turning a Hoodie into a Pillowcase

When I came home from college this summer, I discovered an interesting thing about myself. I own over 30 hoodies... most of which I have a reason for not wearing.

There is the hoodie I got from a concert that got washed with a pen and is now covered in ink.

Or the mass amount of hoodies I have from my high school, much less cool to wear when you are in college.

I wanted to get these hoodies out of my closet, but some of them I couldn't bear to give away. I decided to try and make cute throw pillows to keep them around.

So here's how I made adorable hoodie pillows for my sister and my college apartments.

Hoodie Pillows
  • A favorite hoodie that can no longer be worn
  • A sewing machine
  • Thread matching the hoodie, or in a cute contrasting color
  • A pair of scissors
  • A seam ripper
  • A standard bed pillow
Action plan:
  1. Use the seam ripper to remove the hood from the rest of the sweatshirt. This is a very important set to do first, because it allows you to easily insert and remove the pillow from the sweatshirt.
  2. I like to hem the neck of the sweatshirt after I take the hood off, but if you would prefer an unfinished hem, you can skip this step.
  3. Then, turn the sweatshirt inside out and sew the bottom of the sweatshirt, about a 1/4 inch from the bottom, on the elastic.
  4. Trim off the sleeves off the hoodie, making sure to leave about an inch of sleeve in tact. This makes the side seams easier to work. The sleeves just get in the way.
  5. Slip the pillow into the hoodie, and pin straight sides around the pillow, making sure the pouch of the hoodie, and any beloved symbols on the front of the hoodie are centered. Depending on the size of the hoodie, you may need to sew the entire length of the hoodie, or just sew up the arm holes. This hoodie is from my younger days, and it was somewhere in the middle. Just make sure you fit the hoodie to your pillow.

  6.  Slip the pillow out and sew the side seams.

  7. Trim the excess off of the side seams, turn the now pillowcase right side out, slip the pillow inside, and see if you like it. I love them just like this, with an open top. If you don't like this look, there are a few options you have. 
8. You can attach fabric from the extra sleeve or hood fabric, and sew that to the inside from of the   neckline, giving you something to tuck over the pillow, creating a more solid pillowcase. Or, you can add buttons to the neck, to keep the pillowcase close.

Enjoy! These are a great way to save your old hoodies, and they give you a great place to store the remote on the couch.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yemeni Tea

I am lucky enough to have close family friends who come an visit occasionally from far off lands, bringing the wind of a different culture into my stale everyday life.

On this visit, I was able to learn how to make Yemeni tea. My mother has been raving about this tea for years and I had never been in a position to try any. As an avid tea drinker, I was always extremely curious.

This trip, I volunteered to help make it, with the very selfish motive of wanting to blog about it. When we finished the tea and I was finally able to taste some, I was pleasantly surprised. It was smokey and sweet, much like the chai tea I indulge in from Starbucks, yet with flavors I do believe I had never experienced before. I did tweak the recipe some on my first solo attempt, and am very pleased with the results. (I added cinnamon, ok? It just didn't seem right without cinnamon.)

This will definitely be a staple on cold mornings when I am back at school.

Yemeni Tea

Start with 5 cups of water in a large pot.

Add to the water:
  •  3 teaspoons Cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg (I grated mine fresh, because I am at home, but at school, you can be this will be pre-ground as well. 
  • 1 Cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 6 whole Cloves or 1 teaspoon ground Cloves   
  • 3 tablespoons Sugar
Bring this mixture to a boil, at around medium to medium high heat. This will give the spices time to mingle with each other before adding the tea.

Once boiling, add 5 black tea bags. I used Liptons, so I know that works well, but I have grand plans to mess around with more exotic tea. Let me know if you discover anything awesome. 

Allow the tea to steep in the boiling water, on the HEAT, for 5-10 minutes. If you rush this step, you will regret it later, when the final product is weak. 

Once the tea has boiled, add a can of Evaporated Milk. 

Then let this mixture boil for another 2 minutes.

Then comes the hardest part of this recipe. You must let everything sit, covered if you can, for about 10 minutes. The tea needs to finish brewing, the spices need to finish making everything spicy, and the milk needs to get over it's separation anxiety issues from the can. 10 minutes. Full minutes. 

After this, strain out the cloves, cinnamon stick, and tea bags.

The end result is a cup of tea that will put any Starbucks to shame. Enjoy!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hogwarts Knit Skirt

As a child of the '90s, I grew up reading tales about Harry Potter and his band of merry men. What can I say, I was hooked. Now, many years have passed since I first began the children's series, and I still remain loyal to the films.

The Harry Potter movies and I had a long standing tradition, I would wait for hours at the theater (the past few years in full uniform) waiting with great anticipation to view the next piece of the story.

Around 3 AM, I would then stumble back to my car, robes shoved haphazardly into my bag, thoroughly disappointed with all they had left out of the story.

Year after year, this ordeal took place, until the 7th movie. While it may not have completely covered the book, I was happy with it. I didn't feel the horrible disappointment as with the other movies. Hence, my anticipation for the second installment grew.

My costume would have to be perfect for such a grand event. Since the gray uniform skirt I originally wore was outgrown year earlier, I was in the market for another skirt.

I am in college, so this would have to be a cute, gray skirt, to the knee, hopefully that I would want to wear without the costume, for cheap. This was not happening.

Since I am now on summer vacation, I do have a great deal of time on my hands. I wanted to knit the perfect Hogwarts skirt. After many afternoons combing Ravelry, I could not find the skirt I wanted. I found 2 similar skirts and decided to cut, paste, and ad lib until I got what I wanted.

Here are links to the 2 patterns that I manhandled to get my skirt.
Little Flirt Skirt
Flirty Skirty

Perfect "For Me" Hogwarts Skirt

Cast on 180 on size 7 circulars (around size 12, it was too big on me)

Join in the round and place marker, and knit for 12 inches. (If you are short, knit less, if you are tall, knit more. Just keep it as long as you want, planing for 3 inches of pleats.

Start the eyelet boarder:
Round 1, 3, 5, and 7: Purl
Round 2 and 6 : Knit
Round 4: *Yarn over, K2together* Repeat until end of round.

Start pleats:
Rounds 1–7: *K9, p1* Repeat until end of round.
Round 8: *K9, p1f&b* Repeat until end of round.
Rounds 9–13: *K9, p2* Repeat until end of round.
Round 14: *K9, p1, p1f&b* Repeat until end of round.
Rounds 15–19: *K9, p3* Repeat until end of round.
Round 20: *K9, p1, p1f&b, p1* Repeat until end of round.
Rounds 21–25: *K9, p4* Repeat until end of round.

Bind off all stitches.

Most importantly, TRY ON THE SKIRT NOW.

Then, pick up 180 stitches from the cast on row, and *K2, P2* for 2 inches.

Decrease at the cast on evenly as may stitches as necessary to insure the skirt won't fall off your hips. I failed at this endeavor and has to take the waistband in on my sewing machine. But it is much better to use the waistband decreases to ensure a fitting skirt.

Tada! A skirt fit for Hogwarts, and after the movie is over, a cute pair of colorful tights. ;)

I'll try to post some pictures of the whole outifit after the premiere :)