Monday, August 26, 2013

Chicken Salad

Someone recently asked if I posted recipes on the my blog.  I usually don't, which may seem crazy to a lot of people since my day job is teaching Culinary Arts.  However, I have to tell about my newest concoction I came up with tonight.  Well, it really is a combination of a couple nights cooking which resulted in tonight's dinner feast so let me back up.  A week ago, I tested 3 chicken recipes in preparation for a couple of classes I was going to teach the next day for teachers. The first class was on thirty minute meals or fast easy meals that they could quickly get on the table for their families without spending a ton of time in the kitchen.  I know that teachers spend the majority of their days at school and a lot of the time don't even think about dinner until they are driving home.  By that time it's just so easy - if you don't have a plan for dinner - to stop and pick something up at a drive through somewhere.  It may or may not be healthy, but it will be expensive.  The other one was on quick breakfasts to get you out of the house and that will stay with you longer (energy wise)  than those doughnuts we are all guilty of picking up on the way to school. 

Tonight I used the last of the chicken breasts to make a quick chicken salad.  (I LOVE a great chicken salad!)  I had a chicken breast that I cooked with some rosemary and plums.  It didn't look good and I won't be doing that again - the plums turned the chicken purple and didn't hold up well in the long cooking time - but the chicken did taste good.  That one goes back to the drawing board to be tweaked.   Anyway, the chicken was still good, if not pretty so I chunked it up (large chunks) and then I found a couple fruit cups in the cabinet leftover from another project (I think from February's retreat).  These were apples - which is why they were still in the cabinet - if they had been peaches, they would have been long gone, but the expiration date was still good, but just barely.  I drained them really well and threw them and the chunked chicken into a bowl.  I seasoned with a little salt and a lot of pepper.  I didn't season the chicken before I cooked it - just forgot since I was in a hurry to get them in the oven.   I pulled the mayonnaise from the fridge and realized that expiration date had already come and gone a long time ago, so I threw that away.  Mayo is not one of my favorite items so I don't use it much at all.   I only use it in making chicken salad and on BLT sandwiches.  That is it!   So, I had to go to my favorite, prime ingredient:  Blue Cheese Dressing!!  I love Naturally Fresh brand Blue Cheese Dressing and I especially love it on chicken.  Try dipping your chicken fingers in it!  I put a couple of spoonful's of the dressing in the bowl and mixed it up.  taste.  Hmm.  Needs something else.  My next favorite go to item is roasted garlic in a jar.  You know - the minced garlic in the jar you can find in the produce section of your grocery store?  If you haven't yet, try the roasted variety.  Lots and lots of flavor in that one.   Yummmm.  I put a little bit - just the tip of a regular tea spoon into the bowl to add some garlicky goodness and that was the ticket.  It was delicious.  I love experimenting with chicken salad and this one will be made again.  I may even add some celery - if I have it in the fridge - or even pecans -  the next time I make this.  Hey, I have some left over and I have pecans in the freezer - yep, they are going in there tomorrow. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

WIP and Some Gorgeous Guys

My Quilt group has decided to do several different projects for the rest of this year.  The first one is a stay-at-home-round-robin that we are calling Borders, Borders, Borders.  The rules to this are as follows: 
1.  make/have a center block
2.  draw from the sack a border detail
3.  add that border before the next meeting
4.  bring block to the next meeting to show and tell
5.  draw from the sack the next border detail
6. repeat steps 3 - 5
It's like a round robin, except you are the only one working on your quilt.  We are hoping this will allow the newbies to increase their confidence and skills without making them too nervous by working on someone else's quilt. 
We have put the following into a paper sack - triangles, squares, rectangles, curves, on-point, anything goes.  We are only going to have 4 rounds, so we have no idea what will be pulled next.   If the "on point" doesn't come up in the next turn, we may pull it from the sack since the quilt will almost triple in size if it's for the last round.  (or even the third round)  So, for the August meeting I had to have a block.  Hmmm.  I had a few orphan blocks that I could use and took them to the meeting with me.  I also had some fabric that I pulled and put together and thought it would make a fun quilt and block.  Lots of reds, pinks, oranges and yellows with a little lime greens and a couple of blacks.  Then for the background a white with black and gray words and a white with gray bicycles and a touch of pink and yellow.  Now, what to do with it.  I didn't know, but I knew I needed to have a block soon so off to the meeting I went.  Since we always have workday/meetings I knew I had some time to make a block before the lunch meeting, I just didn't have a plan.  I thought I might do something really off the wall and modern with these fabrics until I was scrolling through Facebook that morning looking for a picture someone posted to show a friend and saw a block on Quiltmaker Magazine's posting - August 17th.  I liked the block and quickly decided to make it.  There were no instructions, sizes or anything, but I was going to make my version of this block.  I knew that whatever size the 4 patch turned out to be would determine the size of the 1/2 square triangle blocks.  Not a problem.  Sew some strips and squares together, make my 4 patches, measure and make the 1/2 squares.  Now to determine what size to make the crossing middle section.  Do I make it the same size?  The same width? narrower?  What do I want to do?  It was all up to me.  Then I decided to put in the black with the gray dots instead of another warm color or the green.  LOVE!!!  I can't wait to do some more on this block.

From the sack we drew out triangles.  Great!  All this round has to contain is one triangle.  I know I want to add more black in to this quilt, but I also want to add more green.  I make a couple of green 1/2 squares and am not pleased when I put them up on the wall.  It looks okay, but that is just it.  It looks okay.  I make a couple of  1/2 squares with the black fabric and decide to use them all the way around in a sawtooth pattern. 

The quilt top is starting to hum along now.  I do know that whatever we pull from the sack in September, I want to add in more color and possibly a different background - probably still in the black in white family or gray and white, but I most likely won't add anymore black just yet.  This block currently measures 21" square.  As usual I am allowing the quilt to let me know the size it is meant to become.  Just letting it grow naturally. 
I am also working on my first project from Camille Roskelley's book, Simply Retro.  This is the first project in the book titled, Swell.  I am using scrap 2 1/2" strips from my box along with muslin.  This is what I have so far.

There are two blocks up on the wall that have a pear and white print that are really fading out and I may want to go back and replace them before sewing it all together.  I have a lot more to go before this one is finished.  I know there is a group on-line that is working their way through this book, but I am so far behind them that I am not even going to try and keep up, but I do want to make every quilt in this book.  They are all so wonderful.  Speaking of wonderful quilts, I should be getting my quilts back from the quilter any day now.  I can't wait to see them.  Since I haven't put any binding on any of the quilts I got back from her in June, I will have my hands full with binding pretty quickly.  I know I cut the binding for two of the quilts I sent previously, but can not for the life of me find it anywhere.  I keep looking in the same places, because I thought I had it all done, but it isn't there.  I don't know anywhere else to look right now so will have to come up with an alternate binding for those two batik quilts.  bummer. 
On a brighter note, my sister and her three boys went to Florida for an end of summer trip and she took some awesome pictures of the boys that I want to share with you.  Here are three of my handsome nephews:

Aren't they all gorgeous? I love these pictures.  Usually they either don't want to have their picture made or are making silly faces in them.  These are perfect and natural.  Now, maybe my other 4 nephews will take some great pictures and I can post them here for everyone to enjoy, also.  I only have one recent picture of them.  They all have their tongues sticking out after eating snow cones!  I won't post it.  Nobody else needs to see blue, green and bright red tongues.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Scrap Bagging and a Tumbler

Awhile back on the 15 Minutes Play blog,  I participated in a scrap swap.  I boxed up a bunch of my scraps and sent them off to Chris so she could play with them.  In return, I received a nice large bag of scraps from her.  We were then instructed by Victoria (the owner of the blog) to play and make something using those scraps.  I pulled them out and really enjoyed making this pillow cover with the scraps.  I blogged about it here.  (now off to another subject, but I will get back to this one, eventually.  Just hang in there with me)
This week I have kind of been in limbo on my quilting.   I know that I really need to make some quilt backs so I can get them ready for the quilter.  I know that I need to finish organizing the studio.  I know that I need to put some binding on some quilts and make their labels so they can go into the "finished" category.  However, I didn't want to do any of that.  I really didn't know where I wanted to go so I took some time and cut up some scraps.  Then I received an order from the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  I know I told myself I couldn't purchase anymore fabric, but a charm pack for seven cents? { 0.07}   I had to bite and since I can't just get one - what am I going to make with one?  A Schnibble usually takes two.  I of course had to order another one and then some fabric for the back so it would all match - I am working on getting backs made for my quilts and my Schnibbles don't have the same fabric on the back as it has on the front since I never think about the back.  So I am trying to think about that pesky back fabric.  Then of course I found a boo crew layer cake I needed.  I discovered this fabric collection on the recent shop hop and thought it was really cute.  (This picture of the layer cake is off the Missouri Star website.)

Of course, the last thing I had to have - or so I thought at the time was a little tumbler template.  (again, the picture is from the Missouri Star website.  The reason it looks backwards - well, is because the picture is taken of the back of the template - the front is protected with paper until you get it home and remove the paper yourself.  Jenny's daughter, Natalie Dawn,  designs these templates herself and her signature is on the front)  Anyway, this template is only 2 1/2" square.   The best thing about this template is it already includes the seam allowance so all you have to do is cut and sew. 
 Since I was cutting up scraps, I thought it would be fun to make a mini tumbler quilt and began cutting some tumbler blocks.  I thought I would cut about 30 blocks and make a little 5 X 6 setting, but I kept coming up with little bits of fabric where I could cut one or two tumble blocks so I increased my setting to 6 X 7.  Not much larger, but that was more blocks than I had originally planned.  However, I quickly sewed some light and dark blocks together and had a nice center section.  I dug through the 1 1/2" strip box for just the right little border fabric and auditioned several of them, but I didn't have enough of the ones I liked the best.  I could have made the border scrappy, but since the middle is so scrappy, I didn't want to do that.  I pulled out a strip from the box and the light bulb went off .  It was of a fabric I had recently used and not put away.  It was right next to the sewing table so I could easily cut another little strip to complete the border.   Perfect.  That border fabric is a light yellowy/green print that I love and will be sad it is all gone.  However, it will be in wonderful quilts so I can still see it.  Back to the quilt in progress.  I thought it needed a darker outer border since a bunch of the tumblers were dark blue.  So, I looked in the box of fabric that I have been scrounging out of for a couple of weeks and found this perfect fabric.  I cut a 3 1/2" strip for the outer borders and voila!  I now have a finished little quilt top that is ready to be quilted.  Hmm, that means it needs a back. . . .

So, to avoid having to find the perfect back for this lovely little quilt, I decide it's time to play again with that bag of scraps I received from Chris (see, I told you I would get back to this)  I pull a few fabrics out of the bag, press all of them and begin cutting and sewing, sewing and cutting.  When I like what I have done, I decide it needed some circles appliqued on top.  All of the fabric in this pillow cover are from Chris except for the turquoise and white circles.  That is from a scrap I received while at Quilt Con and I had just trimmed it up for the scrap boxes.  It was the perfect color for this block so it had to be in there.  I quickly appliqued the circles and quilted the top and finished it up to this stage all last night. (well, early, early this morning)  Then tonight I added the back to make it into a pillow cover.  Of course, I added it on wrong the first time and had to remove the back, turn it over the correct way and add it all again so that is all that got done tonight.  I don't even have a pillow form to put in it - well, not without stealing it from the first pillow.  That may be on tomorrow's shopping list of things to do.  well - - - probably not since tomorrow is the last day of my summer.  I have to go back to school on Wednesday. 


Friday, August 9, 2013

Rib Update and a New Project

I have been to the chiropractor twice and to my regular doctor once and now, I think I am on the road to recovery.  It's going slowly, but I can tell (only because I haven't had that ripping pain going through my back) that I am on the road to recovery. (okay, how many times can I say road to recovery?)   My ribs are back in place, even though there is apparently a cranky one that doesn't want to do what it is supposed to, and I am now on major pain reliever and muscle relaxer.  Nothing is broken. but apparently I have strained, sprained or tweaked the muscle in my back and between my ribs.  Don't ask how I did it.  I am not 100% sure.  I do know that I am a lazy dork and I could have done anything (breathed wrong, reached for a stack of fabric, bent over to pet a dog) and it could have happened.  It could also have happened when I fell tripping over the baby gate about a month ago.  (I can't even remember when I did that, just that I did it sometime in July)

This morning I wasn't going to take my medicine, but the pain kept getting worse so I gave in and whew!! It hit me for a loop.  I was sitting at the table, drinking my coffee and trying to read a book, but I was totally in a spaced out place.  It was weird.  I wasn't sleepy - which is how I have felt the last couple of days taking this medicine - just loopy (I guess that's the best way to put it.  Think 16 candles sister at her wedding, but not as out of it.  I wasn't jumping at flies or stumbling around.  I just felt like it)  Since I couldn't concentrate I decided to take my coffee upstairs and - you guessed it - get on the computer.  LOL  I have now played all my Facebook games and uploaded the picture I took yesterday and the loopiness (I know, not a word, but I am going to use it anyway) has dulled.  I am now able to type and form complete sentences.  (At least I think I am doing that - time will tell when I read this back or one of you reads it and lets me know that I am not totally with it)

Here is a picture of what I have been working on the past few days.  I found the 1/2 square triangles that I used for the middle blocks in a box of fabric - most were already sewn together.  In the same box of fabric was this cream print that I used for the background.  I put together the center square and then decided to add the sawtooth border around the outside.  Now, I am playing with the other 1/2 square triangles and trying to decide what to add next.  I only had a fat quarter of the cream print, so it's not going to go very much further and I am going to have to add in some other fabrics.   I have thought about adding a solid cream fabric and then appliqueing (fusing) some flowers and leaves like the cream print.  Don't know if that would look good or not. I may need to add something else first. 

I may put it on point, now that I have it downloaded and am looking at it again.  Hmmm.  I think I will go sit in the studio and look at it for awhile or at least until The Price is Right is over and the hiccups that just arrived have all gone away.  Have a great quilting day.