Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas presents for a little princess...

Merry Chirstmas everyone. I know I'm a day late, and that I haven't posted in a bit, but I've been very b usy making Christmas presents. I made a few different gifts, and a dress for myself, but most of my time was spent thinking up and sewing dress up clothes for my cousin and god-daughter. She is OBSESSED with dressing up and being a princess, so I used some pieces of fabrics my mom had laying around from the years of making me and my cousin Christmas dresses to make a few fun outfits for my adorable, soon-to-be three year old cousin. (Sorry, this post is pretty image heavy).

I started off making her and her older sister tutus. The pictures really don't do them justice, and they are really way prettier than they look here. I was in a rush to take pictures and get them wrapped, so I didn't have time to get any great ones, but hopefully, when they get back from their vacation, I can get a few pictures of the girls in them.

The tutus are made out of rolls of tulle, and were pretty quick to make. Everything else I made is out of fabric either my mom or I had in our stashes.

This dress was simple, made out of some muslin I had laying around, and a piece of lace from a shirt. I shirred the back so it wouldn't need a zipper or buttons, but apparently I didn't get a picture of it.
This dress was cut from a shirt, so I simply sewed in the sides and cut new straps. The fabric is really stretchy and glittery, so it should slip on easy and sparkle away.

This fabric was my favorite in the stash, but I didn't have much, so I could only make a skirt. It's difficult to tell in the picture, but there is a layer of tulle underneath that peeks out the bottom, and causes the skirt to have just a bit of poof. This is probably my favorite of the pieces I made, but only because it reminds me of the matching dresses my cousin and I had for Christmas when we were little, using this fabric.

Last but not least, I made this cute dress out of some jersey, tulle, and lace. I think I will post a tutorial for it tomorrow. It was pretty quick to throw together, once I figured out exactly what I was doing, but I think it will be worth sharing.

I also made a scarf for my aunt, and a wall decoration for my cousin, but, of course, I forgot to take pictures of them. If I can, I'll have them each snap a pic for me so I can share them.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mexican-insipred Chicken and Rice Casserole

When I was younger, I always thought I didn't like rice. My parents would make white rice in a variety of different forms, and I would never eat it. At one point, in the attempt to make me eat it, my dad started putting cinnamon sugar on my rice, hoping the sweetness would make me enjoy it. I never did.

As the years went on, I started to eat rice in small amounts, as long as it wasn't too mushy and had a lot of flavor. I'll eat rice in my chipotle burritos, and I love fried rice, but I never really made rice for myself. My husband loves rice in pretty much any form, and always wants me to make it, so when I saw this this recipe for creamy chicken and rice casserole over at Pinch of Yum, I figured I would try it, assuming he would love it. I was right, he loved it, and so did I. All I changed was halving the entire recipe, making 4 instead of 8 servings. The brown rice gives the casserole a lot of texture, while the homemade cream sauce has a much better flavor than your typical canned cream of chicken soup.

After making the recipe once, I decided to add my own twist to it, and give it a bit of Mexican flair. I added black beans, bell pepper, and corn, plus some hot sauce and changed up the spices a bit. Overall, the dish turned out great, and I would recommend it, either in its original state, or the way I made it with the Mexican flair. I'm sure it could be customized in many other ways too by simply switching the veggies and spices.

Mexican-inspired Chicken and Rice Casserole
Serves 4

For cream sauce: 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
3/8 cup flour
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Tapatio*

For casserole:
Cream sauce (see above)
3/4 cup uncooked brown rice, rinsed
1/2 cup water
1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cumin
1 cup bell pepper, diced
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn (frozen or fresh)
2 slices pepper jack cheese*

To make the cream sauce:
1. Combine the chicken broth and 1/4 cup of the milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low boil.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, seasonings, and hot sauce into the remaining 1/2 cup milk until a smooth, thick mixture forms.
3. Pour the flour/milk mixture into the saucepan over low heat and stir continuously until the mixture is smooth and thick, 5-10 minutes.

To make the casserole:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish well.
2. Combine the uncooked rice, cream sauce (from above), and water (I actually did this in the saucepan to save a dish). Pour into prepared baking dish.
3. Place boneless chicken breasts on top of the mixture, and sprinkle seasoning.
4. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes.
5. After 45 minutes, remove foil. Carefully remove chicken and set aside. Stir in beans, corn, and pepper. Reposition chicken on top of the mixture, and bake an additional 30 minutes or until rice and chicken are cooked through and top is slightly browned.
6. Remove from oven. Carefully shred chicken, mix together, and put cheese on top. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*Other hot sauces can be used in place of Tapatio. Shredded cheese would also work, if you do not have sliced pepper jack.

I know the recipe sounds like a lot of work, but it is really quite simple, just a few quick steps, then waiting for it to cook. This made my house smell AMAZING, and the 10 minutes waiting for it to cool were torturous.

Source: Adapted from A Pinch of Yum

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pumpkin Dinner Roll

As I believe I mentioned in a previous post, my sister-in-law is pregnant with her first baby. Since they were not finding out if baby is a boy or a girl, I needed a gender neutral theme for the shower, and decided to go with pumpkins, since I know she loves fall and pumpkins (her wedding was even a fall theme). These little rolls went perfectly with the shower, and it was quite simple to achieve, giving a cute, festive treat.

This isn't really a recipe, more just a way of preparing something. I didn't even make dinner rolls fresh (too many other things to make, especially after the cake fiasco), but instead used frozen rolls which you let defrost and rise for a few hours.

Once the rolls are risen and ready to be put in the oven, you simply press down on the dough ball a bit, and cut slits (about 8) in the rolls, leaving the center uncut. They will look a bit like flowers when they are uncooked. Bake the rolls (follow the directions for your roll recipe), and let them cool a bit. To make my rolls look a bit more orange, I melted some butter and added a bit or orange food coloring to it, and then brushed the rolls with the orange butter.

For stems, I decided to use small pieces of chocolate bars, though other food items would work well (pretzels, pecans, etc). After the rolls begin to cool (but are still slightly warm), you simply press the chocolate bar into the center, pressing down so it sticks (since the roll is still a little warm, the chocolate should melt a bit, allowing it to stay on.

That's it! With just a little extra work, you end up with cute pumpkin shaped rolls, prefect for a fall party or Thanksgiving.