Tag Archives: easy

Oven-Roasted Bacon

5 Mar

Or, the only bacon I can cook without burning…

Me cooking bacon had become a joke in our house — it always ended up burned no matter the method I employed. Enter the oven-roasting technique. Now my bacon cooking is no longer a laughing  matter. Instead it is a finger-licking, lip-smacking matter. My husband may never fry bacon in the skillet again, either.

The method is great because it yields consistent results, practically no mess, and — the best part — flat bacon slices!

To get started, line a baking sheet with foil, making sure to completely cover the pan. This step ensures clean up takes about two seconds.

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Next, lay your bacon flat and not overlapping on the baking sheet. We like Wright’s Hickory Smoked Bacon, but you can use your favorite.

Put the sheet in the oven on the center rack and shut the door. Turn the oven on and heat to 400 degrees (you do not have to preheat). At the same time, set your timer for 18 minutes.

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When the time is up, check the bacon. It should be sizzling and just starting to brown/curl around the edges. If it’s not, give it a few more minutes but watch it closely.

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If it is, take it out and transfer the bacon slices to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Cool briefly then chow down.

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To clean up, drain your bacon grease into a small cup or bowl if you want to save it for future recipes; discard it if not. Next, carefully peel the foil off the pan and throw it in the trash.

Now sit down to your delicious breakfast. And stay tuned, I have another breakfast delicacy coming your way soon!

Adapted from this recipe.

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Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes — Take 1

3 Mar

Hi, friends! Today I am showing you more of my “resort collection” that I created for my recent cruise vacation (you can see the first installment here).

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When I first saw the Tania culotte pattern from Megan Nielsen, I wasn’t sold on it. I guess I have too many scary memories of culottes from the 80s.

But as more and more versions popped up across the interwebs, the ingenious design started to grow on me and I gave in. For those of you not familiar with this pattern, it appears to be a cute circle skirt but it has pleats in the front and back that disguise the shorts aspect of the garment. Really cool if you ask me!

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I decided to make my first version up without any alterations. I just chose my size based on my waist, and cut it out and stitched it up. This first version is definitely wearable but is a little short in the crotch. In subsequent versions, I have added a little length to the back crotch.

You will notice from the pattern cover that these culottes run short. On this version, I cut the medium for everything except I cut the XL for the length. Even with the extra 1″ or so, they are still really short and a good gust of wind will have you inadvertently revealing your bloomers.

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For my fabric, I chose a cheap ($1.99/yd) poly crepe with great drape. I picked this up from a recent FabricMart sale and it was perfect for this application.

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For construction, I followed the instructions for the most part. I sewed down the waist facing by topstitching from the right side. I installed an invisible zipper and attached the waistband facing to the zipper by machine.

For the hem, I let the culottes hang for a few days then my husband helped me level it up with his laser level (thanks, honey!). The rolled hem function on my serger made quick work of what would have otherwise been a very tedious job — these things have miles of hem!

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These shorts are definitely lots of fun to wear on non-windy days. I already have one other finished pair and another almost done on my sewing table. Stay tuned!

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McCall’s 6559 Again — Poster City

2 Mar

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Hello, again! Are you shocked by my three posts in as many days? Can I just tell you what a backlog of things I have to share — both food and sewing related. But I digress…

This dress is the first installment in my “resort collection,” or the things I sewed up to go on a cruise at the beginning of February (a total of 5 things).

You have seen me in this pattern before but in the maxi length version.

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I made only minor adjustments to this version beyond what I made in the last one — only widened the back armhole to normal instead of racer-style, raised the neckline 1″, and took another 1/2″ out for a swayback adjustment and added it back in over my derriere to keep the hem level. I also trimmed the seam allowances down to 1/4″ to make it easier to serge.

The fabric is an awesome rayon/lycra 4-way knit that I got from Emma One Sock a little while back — called “Poster City.” And this is your lucky day! She still has some in stock!!

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I constructed the entire thing on my serger, using a 4-thread overlock for the seams and my coverstitch function for the bands and hem. I used the elastic foot to insert elastic into the neckline for stability. This could also be used for the shoulder seam if sleeves were included.

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I don’t guess there’s much else to say about this one other than it won’t be my last!

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Flirty Skirt — McCall’s 6706

1 Mar

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Hi, friends! I am finally sharing a completed sewing project with you. It feels like it has been ages!! Want to know the best part? It’s been about 6 months since I made this but since I wore it to work recently, I decided to snap some pictures and share it with you.

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Be warned, though, this photo shoot took place after 10 hours at work and seeing 40+ patients. You will see wrinkles, stringy hair, and a tired face. And since I conducted this photo shoot with the timer on my camera, my head or feet may be missing in some photos 🙂

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This skirt is made from McCall’s 6706, a great little pattern for a quick and satisfying project. I have not become a huge fan of the hi-low hems yet, but I thought this skirt made in some free fabric would be a great way to test it out. The fabric was a remnant given to me when I went fabric shopping in NYC. It came from Elliot Berman and I am guessing it is rayon challis. It was easy to sew and has a light, floaty feel.

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As for the pattern, it was very easy to sew up and required minimal fitting. All you have to do is select your size based off the finished waist measurement printed on the tissue. I looked for the size that was closest to my waist +1″ of ease. Since it is so full in the hips, adjustments there will likely not be necessary.

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I installed an invisible zipper and finished the waistband facing by stitching in the ditch from the right side. The hem is a narrow 1/4″ machine hem using this tutorial. No hand stitching on this baby!

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My only regret is that I should have used a sturdier interfacing in the waistband.

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And that I don’t look good from behind in this hi-low hem skirt 😦

Oh well. Live and learn!

Thirsty Thursdays — Best Hot Cocoa Mix Ever

20 Dec

Wouldn’t you love to have a recipe for a simple but delicious treat you can whip up to satisfy your chocolate tooth or to give as a cute, homemade gift? This hot cocoa recipe will serve both purposes.

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I have never been a big fan of store-bought hot cocoa mixes — they are just too weak. And that’s even after mixing it with milk instead of the prescribed water. Fortunately, I found this recipe that allows me to keep my own homemade cocoa mix on-hand for chocolate emergencies.

This recipe is also great made in bulk to fill cute mason jars and give as gifts — to teachers, neighbors, coworkers, etc. I made gift boxes of homemade goodies for my stepson’s teachers and included this cocoa mix, this Cheez-It Crack, Fantasy Fudge, these nuts from Ina Garten, Spiced Caramel Pear Jam (will try to blog soon), and homemade marshmallows (made by The Marshmallow Fairy).

 

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A few notes on ingredients — since the flavor of the cocoa really shines through, please use the best cocoa powder you can find. I have tried this recipe with both Callebaut Dutch-processed cocoa and Hershey’s natural cocoa, and there is a definite difference between the two. The mix made with the Hershey’s cocoa has a chalky feel on the tongue while the Dutch-processed cocoa was silky and smooth. I assume this is because Dutch-processed cocoa typically has a higher fat content than store-bought cocoa. For the bulk recipe I made to put in jars, I substituted the vanilla extract with pure vanilla bean powder that I bought at my local health food store, but I think regular vanilla bean seeds could be substituted 1:1.

A few notes on serving — it is important to heat the mix with a small amount of cream or milk before you whisk in the rest of the milk. This extra step ensures your cocoa powder “blooms,” or develops its full chocolate flavor. You can substitute low-fat or fat-free milk for the cream, but don’t skip this step. You can also garnish the cocoa as desired. I stirred homemade salted caramel sauce into mine, topped it with homemade whipped cream, then drizzled a little more caramel sauce on top. And cute mugs don’t hurt. Yum!

Below you will find a recipe to make both one single serving and a 1-pint jar of mix for gift-giving (or just pantry stocking). Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

 

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Decadent Hot Cocoa Mix for One

Yield: 1 one-cup serving

  • 3 Tablespoons high-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup half-and-half or 1/2 cup whole milk plus 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or any dairy combination to equal 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all the dry ingredients with 1/4 cup cream or half-and-half and whisk over medium-low heat until the cocoa and sugar have dissolved and liquid has become dark and silky. Whisk in the remaining dairy and heat until steaming, whisking frequently. Pour into a mug, garnish as desired, and enjoy!

Decadent Hot Cocoa Mix in Bulk

Yield: 2 cups of powder (enough for 1 pint jar), roughly 6-8 servings of hot cocoa

  • 1 cup high-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean powder

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, whisking to blend well. Pour into one-pint container and store at room temperature. To serve, whisk 4-6 Tablespoons of mix with 1/4 cup dairy until melted and smooth. Whisk in 3/4 cup dairy and heat until steaming. Garnish as desired.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

Violette Field Threads — Emmaline Dress

25 Nov

Girls at Bayfront

 

Last month, my sister got married. Being the wonderful sister and loving aunt that I am, I volunteered to make the flower girl dresses for my two nieces. I must say, sewing for someone else was very enjoyable, especially when the someone is kid-sized. Fitting for a child is so much easier than fitting for a grown woman.

 

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Plus, who wouldn’t want to make something for those two cute girls? They were so excited about their “long” dresses.

 

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The pattern I used was the Emmaline dress by Violette Field Threads. I originally found the pattern via a food blog that I follow (funny, huh?). When I first saw it, I didn’t have a specific plan in mind, other than it would be really cute on Mary Catherine and Sarah. Then my sister announced her engagement and the plan was born.

 

All the girls

 

To make matters even more simple, Katie chose navy and pink as her colors and the cover photo for this dress is shown in a cute pink and white chevron, exactly the same fabric Katie wanted (Riley Blake pink chevron fabric here). To tie in the navy, I added a grosgrain ribbon sash to each dress.

 

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This pattern is very straightforward. The sizes are true and the instructions are very clear with color photo illustrations. My only gripe was with the bulk and weight of all three layers of ruffle. Sewing two rows of basting stitches really isn’t a good method for this much fabric so next time I will zigzag over a piece of floss to gather.

I also found the skirt of the dress to be pretty heavy, pulling down on the bodice and causing the hem to drag. To fix this (partially), I put an elastic stay around the waist by sewing a piece of elastic a little smaller than the waist measurement to the waist seam of the dress. The sash also helped to hold the dress up.

Otherwise, this dress is quick and easy to sew up and little girls love the glamorous long length!

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I French braided both of my niece’s hair and Katie’s hair stylist added baby’s breath to the braids. I also helped my sister with her party favors — three batches of homemade peach jam in cute 1/4 pint jars, all made in a 3 hour sprint in my kitchen.

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And because I have a beautiful sister, a few photos to finish off the post. Don’t you love that dress?!?

Thirsty Thursdays — Mimosa Punch

24 Nov


Howdy, friends! I hope everyone is getting geared up for this holiday season. Here in the US, we are celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday so we will get our season of indulgence started soon!

 

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I am posting this Thirsty Thursday a few days early so you can add it to your Thanksgiving menu. I have been making this Mimosa Punch for a year or so now — it is an excellent addition to a holiday brunch, baby/bridal shower, or any other occasion where a few people are gathered. I recently served it the morning of my sister’s wedding for the pre-wedding breakfast and while everyone was getting ready. It received rave reviews and there were only a few drops left when all was said and done.

This recipe is simple to make and requires minimal prep. Chill all your ingredients in advance and/or serve the punch over ice. Either way it is delicious. I think the addition of orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, makes this punch better than your standard Mimosa. I would love to hear what you think after you try it!

And if you are looking for more drink recipes to serve a crowd, check out my Coffee Punch, Apple Pie Moonshine, or Eggnog. Cheers!

 

Mimosa Punch

  • 2 quarts orange juice (I prefer pulp-free, not-from-concentrate juice — freshly squeezed would also be delicious)
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
  • 1-750 mL bottle champagne or sparkling wine (I usually buy the cheap stuff such as Cook’s)
  • 2 liters ginger ale
  • Sliced fruit for garnish, optional (I usually use strawberries and oranges)

Chill all ingredients in advance. Immediately before serving, combine orange juice and liqueur in punch bowl or beverage container. Slowly pour in ginger ale and champagne. Stir to combine. If desired, garnish with sliced fruit.

Adapted from this recipe.