Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sewaholic Renfrew top

I made a shirt! When making things for myself, I have a tendency of attempting sewing projects to either never finish them, or scrap them because they don't turn out right. That's not the case this time! Following Sewaholic's renfrew top pattern, I made view B, and I have to say, I LOVE it! The pictures really don't do it justice. The shirt was pretty quick to throw together, and once I figured out exactly what I was doing, pretty simple. I wouldn't say this is a beginner pattern, but an advanced beginner should be able to finish it, especially with the invention of google.

Did you ever realize how awesome google is? I was a little comnfused when sewing the neckline, since I had never done it before, but one quick google search, and I had all the confidence I needed to continue forward. I love the v-neck, which was much easier than I expected, and really makes the shirt look polished.

The shirt also has a band at the bottom, and at the end of the sleeves. This made the shirt much easier, since it didn't involve hemming. As much as I love sewing, I really hate hemming, especially when working with knits.

Overall, I would definately recommend this pattern to anyone looking for a simple top pattern. I have already started on another, view c this time, that will hopefully turn out just as well.

*Sorry for the rough pictures. the shirt didn't look right when it wasn't being worn, but the lighting and the mirror at work aren't the best.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Indian-inspired spinach and tofu

Have you ever eaten something that you liked, but knew you could make better, or significantly cheaper? That’s how I felt when I had one of Amy's Kitchen's Indian spinach tofu wraps. I loved the wrap, and the convenience of it being frozen and easy to grab on the way out the door, but at about $3 a pop, I felt guilty buying them. I knew it couldn't be that hard to recreate, and since the ingredients are all listed on the pack, I just had to try and figure it out.

The recipe was pretty quick to throw together. I made three wraps to freeze for later, and ate the remaining serving with a piece of wheat naan. I really enjoyed it both ways, and even ate it at room temperature, since I didn't have access to a microwave when I ate it. It's fairly healthy, and the spinach and tofu alone is only about 100 calories (though bread or a wrap will obviously add to that).

Indian-inspired Spinach and Tofu
Makes 4 servings, can easily be doubled

Ingredients :
1 Tbsp olive oil 1/2 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
8 oz baby spinach
1 tsp curry powder*
1/2 tsp ginger powder*
1 tsp cinnamon*
1/2 tsp salt 1/2 block firm tofu, cut into cubes
1/8 cup broth (chicken, veggie, etc.), optional
*Spices can be altered to taste. The addition of turmeric would also be good, though I didn't add any, because I was out.

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large rimmed skillet (a large sauce pan would probably work too). Sauté onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add spinach (you will need to add it in two or three parts, because it won’t all fit in your pan). Add part of the broth with each addition of spinach. Turn the leaves until all the spinach has been added and wilted. Add spices. Remove from heat.
4. Using a food processor or blender, mix together the tofu and the spinach mixture until desired consistency.

If making wraps, I recommend assembling them and baking them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 325, so they are golden on the outside and a bit crisp. They can then be cooled and frozen.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

First, let me say that if this all comes across a little wonky, I'm sorry, but I took some Dayquil this morning, and it tends to make me a little loopy.

My husband and I are generally pretty boring with vegetables. Out of convenience, both is time and size, we make a lot of those Green Giant boxed vegetables, focusing more on the main dish than the sides. As much as I enjoy those veggies, especially because they are so simple and my husband cannot screw them up, lately I'm been bored of them, and decided we need to eat more variety when it comes to veggies.

If you eat all your veggies out of boxes and bags, you may think you don't like Brussels sprouts. I was sure I didn't like them. They were always slimy and tasted "too green." Then, I learned that Brussels sprouts can be cooked in ways that DON'T cause them to be mushy and gross. This recipe turns out sprouts that are tender without being mushy, and with the addition of garlic and cheese, have a completely different taste than those Brussels sprouts you ate as a child. Everyone should give Brussels sprouts a second chance, because these truly were delicious. Served with a simple chicken, they really added to the meal.

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Brussels Sprouts
1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off bottom on sprout and remove outer leaves. Cut Brussels sprouts into quarters or halves, depending on size.
2. Mix oil and garlic in a medium bowl. Lightly toss sprouts in the oil mixture.
3. Pour sprouts and oil into a glass 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese even across the top.
4. Bake 35-50 minutes, until centers are tender, stirring about every 10 minutes. If sprouts begin to char before being tender, cover dish with foil.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Spinach artichoke grilled cheese.

I have always loved spinach and artichoke dip. Even when I thought I didn't like spinach (because apparently I was confused as a child), I still always wanted spinach and artichoke dip. I love the flavor of artichokes, and the creaminess of the dip. Yum! Of course, when I saw a recipe that blended my favorite appetizer with a grilled cheese sandwich, I knew I had to try it. I changed a few things from the original recipe, adding roasted red pepper, using laughing cow cheese instead of sour cream, and cutting down on shredded cheese. The end product was delicious, with just enough creaminess and plenty of flavor, and, with a filling that was less than 200 calories, I didn't feel guilty eating it.

Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese
Makes 2 sandwiches

1 Tb olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
1/3 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
2 wedges light creamy Swiss laughing cow cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese
4 slices bread

Instructions 1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add spinach to the pan and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. Most of the liquid should be evaporated.
3. Add artichoke hearts and roasted red pepper. Sauté about 2 minutes and remove from heat.
4. Stir in laughing cow wedges until melted.
5. Scoop half the spinach artichoke mix onto a slice of bread. Add half of the shredded cheese and top with another slice of bread. Toast sandwich in prepared skillet*, turning once, until both sides are golden brown. Repeat with remaining filling and bread.

*I like to spray my skillet with Pam to toast my sandwiches, rather than using butter, though either method would work.

Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Homemade easy fancy dress

When my aunt told me the only thing my goddaughter wanted for Christmas this year was dress up clothes, I knew I had to make her some homemade dresses. Unfortunately, I don't have much experience sewing, espeically not sewing without a pattern. After searching the internet a bit, I found a few different ideas, and just hoped they would work. For this dress, I found this video, which had a basic tutorial, and used that to make something I thought would be quick, easy, and cute. I was happy with the end product, and it only took about 30 minutes total.

The amount of each fabric you need will depend on the size you need to make. Since I was making a dress for a 3 year old, I didn't need much fabric at all. In fact, I used an old jersey knit shirt as the base fabric. You also need a piece of tulle, and a piece of lace.

To start off, you need to cut a bodice piece from your knit fabric. The piece will be a rectangle, with the long side being your approximate waist measurement(this may need to be increased slightly if your waist is much smaller than your bust), and the short side being the length you want the bodice(my piece was 20" by 11"). You also need to cut a skirt piece from your knit fabric. This piece will be a trapezoid shape, with the top length being the same as your long length of the bodice piece. The bottom of your trapezoid should be a few inches longer(4-6", depending on stretch of fabric). The easiest way to do this is to fold your fabric in half, and measure from the center. This way, both angular sides of your trapezoid should turn out the same. The height of your trapezoid should be about how long you want your dress to be.

Next, cut your piece of tulle. The tulle should be about twice the length of your waist measurement(but the same height as your trapezoid piece). Pleat and pin the tulle onto the waist-length side of the trapezoid piece, pinning the tulle onto the right side of the fabric. Sew a quick baste stitch to keep the pieces together.

Cut a piece of lace the same size as your tulle. Again, pleat and pin onto the trapezoid piece, on top of the tulle(your fabric should be in this order:lace, then tulle, then knit). place your bodice piece on top, with the right side of the fabric facing the lace. pin, and sew along the waist line.

You should now have one piece thats all attached. Simply pin and sew the back seam and voila! Since I didn't know my cousin's exact size, I added two tie straps to the top, but they are not necessary. In the below diagram, you can see the sizes of each fabric piece I cut.

If these directions aren't completely clear, feel free to ask for clarification. I've never written sewing instructions before.