Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sneak Peak

I'm working on something pretty cute....

Two somethings in fact. With perhaps some matching wall art or wall pennants or who knows what.

What adorable frabric though! I bought it at Joanne's and it's perfect for my girls--they are going to share a room and one wants "blue like the sky" and the other wants "pink, Pink, PINK!"

Anyway, little sneak peak for ya. Of course I'll be showing the finished project when I finish (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later). :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cucumber Sandwiches

I made these sandwiches for a tea party my mom and I hosted for the ladies in my family clear back around Valentine's day, but am now just getting around to posting the recipe. And this is not a recipe to be missed!

The simplicity of these sandwiches may cause some to scoff, but let me tell you, there is something wonderful and fresh about these little sandwiches. Elegant looking (perfect for a tea party) but quick and simple (perfect for a mid-afternoon snack on a warm day).

To make these, first spread a generous amount of cream cheese onto slices of bread. I used plain and thought it was delicious, although if you wanted to add complexity to the flavor, I'm sure a veggie cream chese would also be good (however, it would probably overpower the cucumber). Also, white bread is probably more traditional, but like pretty much everything else I do, I just used whole wheat. :)

Next prepare the cucumber. To do this, I used a sharp vegetable peeler (I have two--the common, everyday one, and the really nice sharp one. Only the nice one worked well for this). Then use this peeler to not only peel but slice through the cucumber. Once I got to the seeds, the peeler stopped working so well and the seeded middle portion was discarded (and munched on). :) For this reason, english cucumbers work better because they tend to have more meat and less seeds.

Lay your thin slices of cucumber on top of the cream-cheesed bread, overlapping the slices as you go.

Trim off the edges and slice the sandwiches to your desired shape. I debated about cutting them into strips or using cookie cutters to make shapes, but in the end I decided to go with simple triangles.

Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, garnish with some mint, and voila! Elegant, simple, delish little snack sandwiches. :)


Linking up here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crab Cakes Recipe

Yummy recipe today from guest blogger Jenny Smith!
She's here from Fresh Maine Seafood to share a crab cake recipe. Crab cakes are really delicious and quite easy to prepare in your own kitchen as you can see below. :) 

Crabs aren’t exactly the friendliest of all creatures, but they sure can be one of the tastiest. People make crab delicacies like crab steaks, fried crab claws, crab roast and even crab meat curry. But what are really easy to make are crab cakes. They look good, taste good and you can now make them yourself.
Preparing for the recipe will take you 30 minutes because you have to de-shell and clean two, two pound crabs. It will take only 10 minutes to cook. Total cooking time is 40 minutes.
 The Crab cakes recipe is as follows:
·         A one pound lump of crab meat de-shelled and cleaned properly
·         4 tbsp unsalted butter (divided, 1tbsp and 3tbsp)
·         ½ a cup chopped shallots
·         1 tsp kosher salt
·         1and a half tsp Worcestershire Sauce
·         2 large eggs
·         1 tsp sweet paprika
·         ½ tsp black pepper
·         2 tbsp tartar sauce
·         1 tsp lemon zest
·         1 tbsp chopped parsley (fresh)
·         ¼ tsp Tabasco
·         4 slices of white bread with crusts removed, torn into small bits which fill 2 cups
·         2 to 3 cups of bread crumbs
1.      Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet. Heat should be medium. Then add the shallots and half a tsp of salt. Fry till shallots are translucent, do not brown. Take the shallots off heat and let them cool.

2.      In a bowl whisk both the eggs, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, ½ tsp salt, tartar sauce, black pepper, lemon zest, parsley, lemon zest, Tabasco and the cooked shallots. Fold in gently the torn breadcrumbs and crabmeat. Take care as to not break up the lumps of crabmeat. The mixture will be very moist. Using your hands take a scoop of the mixture and form a patty out of it. Try to make it round. Make about 12 patties. Line a rimmed tray with wax paper , sprinkle half the breadcrumbs in the bottom of the tray, set the crab cakes on the layer on breadcrumbs over the cakes.
 3.      Cover the tray with a loose sheet of wax paper and chill in the fridge for an hour.
4.      Heat 3 tbsps of butter in a non stick frying pan, let the butter melt and foam. Let the foam subside and in batches fry the crab cakes till golden brown for say 3 minutes fir each side.
5.      Serve hot.
Thanks Jenny for sharing that great-looking recipe! Maybe we could get our hubbies to make it for us on Mother's Day? :)

 Lots of love,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Knit Toy Snakes--Free Pattern

I recently finished these toy snakes for my girls. They love them. Granted they are used more frequently as whips or ropes or feather boas or scarves or what not, but they do play with them quite a bit, and I think the pretty girly colors are fun. :)

I used the same colors for both snakes, but knitted different patterns. For my older daughter, who loves patterns in general, I stuck to a more definite pattern (bottom snake in the image below), while for my younger daughter, I used a more hap-hazard pattern. Both were cute and it was fun to mix them up.

This particular snake pattern has been used A LOT. I've made snakes for several of my nephews using the color scheme shown below (also very cute, but it sure was fun to make it girly this time!).

This pattern is now available on our etsy shop. 
 The body is easy-peasy. The head is also quite simple, but I know the first time I knitted it, I kind of wondered what was going on....

I've included a few images below of how the snake starts out so there are no surprises or confusion as you get going. Essentially, you start knitting the snake on a single needle. The increases and decreases are such that it naturally curves the head around--eventually the two ends on your needle will meet in the back and will be sewn together.

This image shows how the back of the head looks before stitching it together (I always do that at the very end). Once I've finished the head area, I prefer to connect the body around in a circle and knit in around so I don't have to stitch up the entire length of the snake when I'm finished.

Here's the pattern! Enjoy. :)

click here to print

4 double-pointed 3.25 mm (US 3) knitting needles
Stuffing material
Buttons for eyes
Various colors of yarn

Gauge isn’t important for this project
All increases were Knit Front and Back stitches (knit a stitch, leaving stitch on left needle; knit into the back loop of this stitch) (unless a purl row, then purl front and back).

To make
Starts at head.
Cast on 12 stitches (sts)
1st row: Knit (K)
2nd row: Purl (P)
3rd row: (K1, inc) 2x, k3, inc, k1, inc, k2
4th row: p2, inc, p1, inc, p5, inc, p1, inc, p3
5th row: k
6th row: p3, inc, p1, inc, p7, inc, p1, inc, p4
7th row: k4, inc, k1, inc, k9, inc, k1, inc, k5
8th row: p
9th row: k5, inc, k1, inc, k11, inc, k1, inc, k6
10th row: p6, inc, p1, inc, p13, inc, p1, inc, p7
11th row: k
12th – 20th row: stocking/stockinette stitch, end with a purl row

The head section is essentially complete now. However, I think it looks much better to now spend a few rows doing some decreases to really define the head before doing the body. So I would recommend the following few rows.

21st row: Knit but decrease 4x (k2tog), 2x in the first ¼ of the row and 2x in the last ¼ of the row.
22nd -24th rows: stocking/stockinette stitch
25th row: Knit but decrease 4x (k2tog), 2x in the first ¼ of the row and 2x in the last ¼ of the row.
26th row: purl

For some snakes, I will do another round of decreases, but this is usually what I stick with. It really depends on how well-defined you want the head area and how thin you want the snake body to be.

For the body of the snake, now disperse the stitches onto 3 needles and connect in order to knit in around. Make the seam go down the underside of the snake (where the underside of the head is). Just knit around and around and around in whatever stripy pattern you choose until it starts to look about long enough. Every 6 inches or so, I stuff the snake as I go. This makes it a bit more difficult to knit, but I think it is much better than leaving the snake flat, stuffing it at the very end and then stitching up the whole length of the snake.
To finish the body of the snake, simply start to decrease. I usually decrease (k2tog) every 4 rows or so until there are only a few stitches left, at which point I fasten off the end and weave in the loose end.

To finish, weave in all loose ends, finish stuffing, and stitch up the head. For the tongue, I like to braid 4 strands of yarn together and sew within the opening, but you may also use felt to make a tongue. For the eyes, I sew on matching buttons. I have, when making the snake for young children, used yarn to stitch eyes on so as not to worry about buttons as choking hazards.

Click here to print.