Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, I originally wanted to keep this blog as the place where I would share recipes I created, but these turned out so good I can't keep them to myself. That would just be cruel!

I LOVE making dessert for family get togethers, so when my husband and I were invited to his Aunt Sue's house for Thanksgiving along with 23 other people I jumped at the chance to make all of the desserts. I was told I should probably make enough pumpkin pie for everyone to have a piece, but that I could make whatever else I wanted. The pumpkin pie recipe I used is from Paula Dean, and you can find it here. The pie turns out super creamy and I've never had a problem with the middle falling in or the edges cracking. So please, use this recipe! Alex's Aunt Sue said it was the best pumpkin pie she'd ever had, and she's a great family cook!

The next dessert I made was a lemon cheesecake. I wanted something a little lighter with a bright taste, and this definitely did the trick. This ended up being Alex's grandmother's favorite dessert. It's another Paula Dean recipe and you can find it here. Don't let the "total time" scare you - 6 hours of that is chilling time in the fridge, and 1 hour (ish) of it is baking time. It really only takes about 15 minutes to put everything together - probably less. The lemon curd recipe for the topping is AMAZING! That is what I got the most compliments on. I also added a little bit of powdered sugar to the top just before serving. I tried to do it earlier (a few minutes before the picture was taken), but it all soaked into the lemon curd.

The last dessert I made was a pair of toffee apple pies. I wanted something with a caramel flavor, and I was really looking for a pie with a crumb topping, but I'm really glad I went with this recipe. There is a crumb topping underneath the top pie crust! You can find the recipe here. I used Jonathan apples for the recipe - 6 in each pie and used deep dish pie plates. This pie was my husband's favorite. I nailed the filling, the streusel topping and the sugary crust.

One thing that I did differently on the pie recipes is I used a different crust recipe. I'm sure the one that comes along with the apple pie recipe is to die for, but I have a favorite recipe. You can find the recipe I use here. The name of the recipe is "Perfect Pie Crust" and it really is. I have never had a problem with this crust, whether I'm using it as a double or a single or for little tarts, it's so butter and flaky, I love it. Bonus - it comes together very nicely in my food processor, which is really great since I don't have a stand mixer! I've rolled out the dough after chilling and without chilling it, and it turns out either way. So - if you don't have time to let the pie crust chill, it will still turn out (and it's easier to roll then!) I usually make the recipe, split it in half, wrap each section in plastic wrap, and then let it chill while I make my filling. It really doesn't need any more chilling time than that. So, I hope you guys try these recipes out. They do taste amazing! Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Baking!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Super Mario Quilt #4

Apparently, I have put all of my other craft/sewing projects on hold to work on this Mario quilt. I really like putting it together, but each character is taking a long time. I am probably spending between 5-6 hours on each one. So far I have completely put together two characters - the red mushroom and Mario.

My last post showed what it looks like when you have the 16 blocks stitched together to make a row. Here's a couple pictures of what my two completed characters look like when the rows have been assembled but now sewn all together yet:

(The mushroom rows have been ironed in the picture, the Mario rows have not.)

Sewing all of the squares together to make the rows is what is taking me the longest. (If anyone has any time saving tips, now would be the time to share!!!!) By the time I get to my 24th character square I'm sure I'll be a pro. The other thing I'm running into is that my finished squares - which I thought would measure 16.5'x16.5' are only measuring 15.5'x15.5'. So - I'm losing area somewhere. I think it's in sewing all of the blocks together, that with them being so small it's hard for me to take a true 1/4-inch seam. But - this means the quilt will be a better size when I'm done with it. We only have a queen bed, and the pattern I'm using will be at least a king-size quilt. I just need to consistently keep making these mistakes to keep all of my blocks the same - so, pray that my sewing skills don't get more accurate over time. 

Here's what my two finished squares look like. I haven't "squared" them up yet for when I sew them together to add borders. I want to see how all of my other character squares turn out before I start slicing and dicing and then end up in a real pickle! Up next is the angry sun square!! I'm not sure I'll dedicate many more posts to the creation of the different squares for this quilt. Once I have them all put together I'll do a picture-heavy post of all of them. I'll even put them in the order of how I'm arranging them on the quilt. Then I'll show you how I'm doing borders between the squares and around the whole quilt. :) 

I'm sure that will be at least a month from now, so until then - Happy crafting!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Super Mario Quilt #3

This post is an update on my progress for the Super Mario Quilt. I now have all of the little squares cut! It took a few nights' worth of time and effort, but well worth it. This picture shows most of the colors for the quilt and all of the tedious cutting. :)

It was10:00 PM by the time I had everything cut. My goal was to get everything cut AND to put together the first character block, but that didn't happen. I did lay out all of the squares so now I have them in order to sew together.

Then, I decided I wasn't too tired to try to sew at least a couple lines together, and maybe I could even get the whole character together. (Wrong!) It was more tedious than I thought to sew together all of the little pieces. You don't really have a chance to use the pedal on the sewing machine because by the time you start you're at the end of the piece! So, it was a time consuming process. I did manage to get 2 rows sewn together. Once I have the rest of the lines together I'll iron everything and then start sewing each row into the character block. The two rows pictured here are the top two on the red mushroom character square. I should be able to put more rows together tomorrow night after work, but I won't guarantee I'll have one whole character completed. If I do - we can all be surprised! :) Happy crafting!

Super Mario Quilt #2

This post is all about the fabric choices I made for the Mario quilt. Besides the 14 different bolts of fabric you see in this picture, I also purchased 9 additional fat quarters of different shades. That is the most color choices I have ever needed for one craft project! I figured out that I needed 23 different colors for this quilt (I could have pulled it off with 21, but once you get to that many colors, what's two more?). Black, white, and light blue are the most prevalent and each of those needed over 2 yards. The other fabrics pretty much were all 1/4 yard or less. That made my time at the cutting counter significantly longer than it usually is, but it makes putting the quilt together so much more fun!

I am cutting out 1 1/2" squares for this quilt so the finished size of each square will be 1". That means each character square will be 16" when completed. When my husband was helping me design the quilt and telling me which characters he wanted on it, I'm pretty sure he had no idea how tedious the project would actually be. For the black fabric, I cut out over 1,800 little black squares. It's mind-numbing work that I can do while I watch TV, so I really don't mind that much. I'm just hoping all of my corners line up! Once I have all of the fabric cut, I'll compose another post so you can see how many squares it is really going to take. I'll try to have one character square put together when I do that post as well.

On an up-side, this project does help me pass the time while my husband is off traveling. He's gone the rest of this week, home for the weekend, and then gone again next week. So that means I have plenty of time to put things together. I was hoping to keep this project a secret from him, so that he'd be surprised when it was all done, but I don't think that's going to happen any more. He asks for an update on the quilt, and if he doesn't see me working on it when he's home he'll wonder what's going on. I hope he'll be surprised with how quickly I can get it done. It's the top stitching that will be the only wrench in the process. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that yet. I might try to find someone in Madison that I can take it to, otherwise, I might try to do some hand-quilting on my own or see how much I can really put through my little sewing machine. Anyway - until next time. Happy crafting!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Super Mario Quilt

My husband saw a quilt that was Mario themed and decided that he needed t have one. It's been on the back of my mind for a couple months now. I've been trying to complete some other craft projects before getting knee deep into this quilt. Not to mention I still have my double Irish chain quilt to put together. He would really like to have this quilt as a gift for Christmas, so I'm going to try my hardest to get it worked out.

I have never been good at calculating how much fabric I need of every color, and this quilt I knew would be difficult. I don't want to waste time and money at the fabric store picking things out without knowing how much I need. So, I did a Google search and - voila! - found what I was looking for.

This site was so helpful, I'm sharing it with all of you. Go here if you want to learn how to calculate how much fabric you'll need of each color for your next quilt. I like this because it tells you how to do triangles too! I'm just doing an easy pattern of 1" finished squares, so my math wasn't too complicated. I'll add on more once I drag my husband to the fabric store to approve of color choices picked out. Wish me luck in getting this completed by Christmas Day - only 48 days and some change to go! Happy crafting!
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