Friday, January 31, 2014

Foodie Friday: Dark Chocolate Coconut Milk Smoothie

I never really liked coconut in any form until I was introduced to homemade coconut milk ice cream. Have you ever made it? If not, go and make some now because wow, it's delicious! Anyway, I still don't like raw or shredded coconut but butter, full-fat milk, oil and flour I am totally crushing on right now. I made coconut flour tortillas yesterday and had a little milk leftover. I've been seeing all kinds of smoothie variations around lately so I decided to whip up my own version. 

***Before you blend, think about a few things. As it is written below, this isn't a super sweet smoothie so don't expect it to taste like a Wendy's Frosty. If you want it sweeter use a super ripe banana and extra honey. Also, if you want a cold version, freeze the banana, chill your milk and add a little ice.***

Dark Chocolate Coconut Milk Smoothie

1 banana
1 c full-fat coconut milk 
1/2 c filtered water
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBS 100% dark cocoa powder
1 tsp honey
pinch of cinnamon 
crushed ice (optional)

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Boom. Done. Now drink it!

*You could also change up the flavor by adding nutmeg, mint, raspberries or a little heat from chilies. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Closet Flashback: The Cosmo Bag

Yikes….I already made this bag 3 years ago (original post here). This is yet another pattern that I sewed up while on a serious Amy Butler bender a few years back. It's interfaced with fusible fleece because i wanted a soft, squishy bag that I could throw in the back of my closet and not worry about getting permanent interfacing creases.

It's held up well and has been used a lot. It serves as a nice overnight bag or farmers market type bag.

It has pockets on both sides that are the perfect size for a bottle of water.

There are several pleat details that help shape the top.

I added a few little pockets on the inside. It's actually pretty cavernous so having a cell phone pocket was necessary. Please pardon the fuzzies at the bottom of the bag. I clearly need to spend some time with a lint roller.

This is one of those projects that while I really like the fabric and button combinations, I can't help but stare at my lines of stitching. I must've been in a frenzy because they lack let's say, my usual attention to detail. Oh well…just don't look too close ;)

I would definitely make this bag again IF I needed another huge bag. I've mentioned this before but my bag collection has turned into a Russian nesting doll situation. I kid you not…when I found this in my closet and dumped out the contents there were literally 15 OTHER bags of varying size inside. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Foodie Friday: Spaghetti Squash "Hash Browns"

I absolutely love a good hash brown. My Dad makes the best ones in the entire world…seriously, they're legendary.  However, white potatoes and I are having a bit of a falling out and it's very rare that I eat them in any form (**full disclosure: although sometimes I eat Whataburger fries with spicy ketchup…it's shameful, I know :)**). Anyway, I digress. I've been crushing pretty hard on spaghetti squash lately and had some leftover in my fridge. I was feeling nostalgic for my Padre's cooking this morning and decided to try to make faux-browns with squash. It may sound a little weird but it was actually pretty darn delicious.

Spaghetti Squash "Hash Browns" - serves 2

2-3 c cooked spaghetti squash threads
1 TBS organic coconut oil or ghee
1 TBS organic coconut flour
1 egg
1 TBS+ dried basil
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
red pepper flakes - to taste…I use A LOT
1/2 - 1 tsp fresh black pepper
Pinch of sea salt

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil is warming, mix all the other ingredients together. Once the oil is hot enough, throw the squash mixture into the skillet and cook stirring occasionally to make sure nothing burns and so that everything is cooked and takes on a lovely golden brown color. This only took 5ish minutes FYI. Once they are browned to your liking, EAT THEM!  

PS - I'd like to clarify something too…while these do brown, they don't get that nice crunchy, crust that potato hash browns do. So now you know.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Christmas Dress

Here I am, finally posting a few pictures of my daughter's Christmas dress. She had seen a doll dress in the American Girl catalog that she really liked, and asked me to make her a dress like that, and one to match her doll. The dress had a square neck and a ruffle. It also had some sort of fancy ruched belt which I left off. I went back and forth with my fabric choice, because hello....this fabric is BOLD! I found it at a yard sale last fall: 6 yards of heavy upholstery fabric for $10. Can't beat that! I knew I had plenty of fabric to play around with pattern matching. I must say, matching the pattern on this dress made me giddy. I found a simple Simplicity pattern from their Project Runway collection and used it as a base. I added a lining so the ruffle would stand properly and so it would cover the fraying edges of the upholstery fabric.

Because of the construction (I added a side zip) I ended up having to hand stitch about 2/3 of the lining. For the ruffle, I lucked out and used the already-hemmed tie from a dress Mom made a while back. I just cut narrow strips and gathered them along the raw edge.

 For the hem, I used horsehair braid which despite being a misnomer is really nifty stuff. Although it used to be made of horsehair long ago, it is now made from nylon/polyester. It is a tape that you can sew into hems to give them a little extra body. I have used it a few times, namely in the 1880's ballgown I made, and in my wedding dress. I wanted this dress to have a flouncy hem without having to bother with a crinoline, because after all, that would be a pain in the arse. I also added a bejeweled zipper pull, which I forgot to photograph. A few months ago I had made my daughter a skirt with a dressy zipper and she thought the zipper pull was so fancy. For this zipper, I used a jewelry pin and a few pretty beads and bent the end into a loop to hang from the zipper pull. She was thrilled!

I also made a coordinating outfit for her doll. Whoever says that sewing doll clothes is fun needs to have their head examined. I hate sewing doll clothes, namely because everything is so small and finicky and bla, bla, bla. This fabric was way too heavy to make anything with detail, so I made a simple circle skirt with elastic waist. I finished the hem with black bias tape. The shirt was from a pattern, but I left off the closures and made it a wrap, since this doll is smaller anyway. The girl is very pleased with her new dress, although I really need to find a black cardigan to go with it since the weather here has been less than tropical.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I don't know about ya'll but today I'm shirking all my responsibilities and taking the day to relax and enjoy some extra time off with my family. Therefore, there will be no regularly scheduled Closet Flashback post today but we'll be back next week!  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Foodie Friday: Homemade Soy Milk and Tofu

A few years ago I decided to try my hand at making tofu and then promptly forgot about my resolution until a few days ago. I had stashed all of the ingredients (organic soybeans and nigari) in an airtight jar in the back of my pantry and discovered them as I was doing some reorganization. I pulled everything out and decided to go for it.

To start this off I'd like to say in full disclosure that it is a somewhat lengthy process and this particular recipe doesn't yield a full "brick". In fact, the sum of all my efforts was rather disappointing (you'll see the picture below). However, it's not difficult to do and is kind of satisfying when you're done. So with that in mind, here goes…..

This is a basic soy milk and tofu recipe from Food and Wine magazine (July 2011)

1. To start out, measure 8 oz (about 1 1/3c) of dry soybeans
2. Cover the beans with about 3 inches of cold water, cover and let rest 8 hours (I left mine a little longer)
3. Nigari is the critical ingredient because it's what coagulates the milk. It's not that easy to find in stores so I got mine online at
4. This is just a before/after shot of the dry vs. soaked beans. 

5. Drain the soaked beans and add them to a blender with 3 C filtered water. Puree until as smooth as possible. Then line a sieve with either a cotton cloth (that's what I used…mistake!!! It didn't drain properly and was a pain to wring out) or 3 layers of cheese cloth.
6. Pour the blended liquid through the cloth/strainer and squeeze as much liquid out as possible.
7. These are the solids leftover after squeezing…they smell kind of funny FYI.
8. Bring 3 C filtered water to a boil then add the strained bean mixture. Boil, stirring constantly (and I mean CONSTANTLY to avoid boiling over or scorching) with a heatproof spatula for 8 minutes. Strain the mixture through cheese cloth and a sieve one more time and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.

9. At this point, you can now pat yourself on the back for making soy milk! There should be a little over 4 cups which is the perfect amount for Phase 2 of this soybean adventure. Dissolve 1 teaspoon nigari in 1/4 C filtered water. Put 2 TBS + 2 tsp of the solution into a heat proof bowl and set aside.
10. Add 4 c of the soy milk into a saucepan and carefully heat it to 185 degrees.
11. Pour the milk into the heatproof bowl with the nigari mix and stir gently just to combine. Don't over stir or you may scramble your setting tofu. Cover for 5 minutes until fully set.
12. Now at this point you can either stick with the silken tofu or trudge on for a firm version.

13. I went with the firm option and lined a colander with cheese cloth and gently spooned the tofu into it. I let it drain for about 15 minutes before covering the remaining solids with the cheese cloth. I then rigged up a MacGyveresque tofu pressing contraption. Tart pan + colander + tupperware lid + coconut milk = makeshift press. I popped that all in the refrigerator and left it in there for about an hour and a half.

…And here's the most anticlimactic looking food finale ever. I literally almost fell asleep looking at it. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

It was so boring to look at on the plate that I threw together a quick butternut squash and tofu hash. At least you can smile at the orange color on the plate.

So, if you've made it this far and are still reading on, here are my final thoughts on the finished product. While it had a wonderful texture and taste, I would not make this again, probably ever. I like tofu but the amount of labor involved outweighed the benefits of making my own organic version. In the future, I will definitely be leaving this food item to the professions!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Knitting Sampler Turned Beanie Baby Hat

As previously mentioned, my grandma taught me some new knitting skills this Christmas. We knitted up a sample swatch together, and I sewed it up into this cute little hat. It looks kind of goofy, kind of cute, and it fits my daughter's beanie baby perfectly!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Completed Knit Washcloth (Fo' Real!)

Long ago, I started this washcloth. I believe I actually began it when I was getting my sleep study done in August. Those sleep studies are a barrel of fun, by the way. Har, har! I cast on the washcloth and then I didn't do much with it. A row here, a row there. In late fall, a friend asked me if I was working on any knitting projects and I told her I was working on a washcloth. She slyly reminded me that it was the same washcloth I had been working on in the summer.....details, details! But I finally finished it, just after Christmas, and gave it to my grandma who taught me how to knit in the first place. I admit it is a pretty lame project but the fact that I finished it is pretty momentous right now. While Grandma was here, she taught me how to purl. Woo! I'm a big girl now. And she taught me how to do ribbing, and I am proud to say I am almost half way through a knit hat for my girl using my new skills. I'm on a roll!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Closet Flashback: Ikea Pillow Covers

I made these pillow covers for my couch a few apartments ago out of a panel of home dec fabric from Ikea. I love them so, so much and they make me smile every time I see them. I realize they're a little bright and funky but they work for me! 

Of course they have vintage piping.

The couch on it's own is pretty boring which is great because it makes for a nice blank canvas for the pillows to reside on.

What does the fox say? I honestly don't know…that video scares me.

The squirrel pillow is actually my favorite of the two. It reminds me of the squirrel we helped domesticate named Cletus when we lived in NJ. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Foodie Friday: Chicken Lasagna

Ahhh lasagna. A nutritionally dubious comfort food that we just love to eat. This version is slightly less  horrible for you since it opts for chicken instead of sausage and red meat.  It goes together quickly and is a lot less labor intensive than a traditional recipe.

This recipe is adapted from Runner's World Magazine.

Quick, Creamy Chicken Lasagna   


15 oven-ready lasagna noodles (I've used rippled and flat - both work)

4 C shredded chicken (I've cooked breasts in the crockpot or if pressed for time, used a whole rotisserie)

1 1/2 tsp dried basil (I use organic)

12 oz cream cheese, softened (yes you could use organic here but nothing compares to Philadelphia brand)

1/2 C chicken or vegetable stock (I use organic)

3 C marinara sauce (preferably no sugar added)

4 C shredded mozzarella (I use less)

3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese (I skip this…Me + Parmesan = no bueno)


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine chicken, basil, 8 oz of the cream cheese and 1/4 C broth. Mix remaining broth and cream cheese in a separate bowl and set aside. In a 9x13 baking dish (make sure it's broil safe) spread 1/3 C marinara on the bottom. Then, assemble 4 layers as follows: 3 noodles, 2/3 C sauce, 1 C chicken mixture, 3/4 C mozzarella and 2 TBS Parmesan (if using). Top with broth mixture and remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes until cheese is bubbling away nicely. Remove foil and turn oven to broil (leaving dish on the same rack). Remove when top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Closet Flashback: The Muse Dress

I made this dress over two years ago (original post here) and it would seem that I can't get a decent picture of it no matter what I try. It's a very classic style with princess seams, fitted waist and little pleat details on the skirt. It's fully lined with an invisible zip (my favorite!) and it's made out of some sort of rich chocolate colored, cotton blend with a little stretch. There are some tweaks that I'd like to revisit to clean a few quirks up but overall I'm still happy with the end result. 

The skirt is about knee length.

Stitched details are on the waistband and neckband.

I learned a lot about garment construction while making this dress. It's how I learned to install an invisible zipper AND fully line with hand stitching for a more polished look.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Christmas Gift #2

As I mentioned last week, this was not my year for handmade gift giving. This is the only other thing I sewed for Christmas (well sort of, check us out on Instagram to see the monogrammed tea towel that made it under the tree too!). I love how simple this bag is to put together and how fun it is to pick fabric and trim options. I gave this to my sister who squealed a little so I think that's a good thing :) 

This is based on the Inside Out Bag tutorial from the Purl Bee. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Foodie Friday: 2013 Honorable Mentions

Today I don't have a recipe to post.  It's been a busy holiday and a few things had to be sacrificed for sanity. Instead, I did a round up of pictures from notable restaurants I went to in 2013 (most are in central Texas), food other people cooked for me or tasty treats I had along the way .

(Pictures left to right and top to bottom)

Thanksgiving in Fredericksburg, TX- tried my first fried turkey!
BBQ spread with burnt end beans and potato salad from The Granery @ The Pearl in San Antonio
My birthday cupcakes from the Whole Foods flagship in Austin
The Democrat and the Dirty Trailer Park Tacos from Torchy's in Austin
Berry crumble from Biga on the Banks on the Riverwalk in San Antonio*
Beef filet on polenta with a chimichurri sauce from Biga on the Banks*
Cheesecake spring rolls also from Biga on the Banks!*
My bulldog Henry got his first hamburger from Lucy's Surf Bar in Baton Rouge
Baked then fried potatoes from the Blue Cow in Los Angeles

If you're ever in the San Antonio area, here are some delicious places I also went to this year that are worth checking out:

Mi Tierra 
La Fogata
Two Step 
Bohanan's Prime Steaks and Seafood
Two Bros. BBQ Market
Boudro's Texas Bistro

I'm looking forward to trying new recipes and restaurants in 2014 and hope you have an exceptionally piquant year as well! 

"We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly."
Anna Thomas

"I am not a glutton
-I am an explorer of food."
Erma Bombeck

"People who love to eat are always the best people"
Julia Child

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas Gift #1

This year was so busy that I sewed precisely two Christmas gifts and both of them were from the Purl Bee tutorial for the Inside Out Bag.  This one I made for my Mawmaw using a heavy weight canvas and Amy Butler print. I made one for myself here that's almost identical which I have used more than almost any other thing I've ever made. If you're looking for a simple, practical and quick project this one's for you!