Monthly Archives: May 2014

Chocolate Chip Muffins

choc chip muffins

I made these a few days ago for breakfast.  Connor loves them, and I’m mighty fond of them myself.  I’ve even gotten Nic to say he will try them tomorrow morning.  🙂  They are just a basic muffin with chocolate chips mixed in the batter.  Yummy and simple.  Mmm!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil.
  3. Add all at once to dry ingredients, stirring just till moistened.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin tins 2/3 full.
  6. Bake at 375-degrees for 18-20 minutes.
  7. Makes about a dozen muffins.

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From Better Homes and Gardens Quick Breads Cook Book, copyright 1975.

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Hooded Towel

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(******You can right click on the pictures and open them in a new tab to see them on a bigger scale.  I know they are small on this post.*******)

You asked for it, and now you’re going to get it.  Okay, so you didn’t actually ask for it, but you’re getting it anyway.  A sewing tutorial for a hooded towel, complete with examples of bad photography.

These towels are great!  I’ve been making them recently as baby shower gifts, and they have always been well-received.  I finally made one yesterday for Connor, and today, I made one for Zachary, even though he isn’t due to grace us with his presence until September.  Anyway, these are fantastic because they can be used on bigger kids, they actually absorb water instead of just adhering to the child, they are soft and fluffy, and you can get them in any color you want, assuming the store has that color in stock.  Not to mention, they are relatively cheap and easy.  Trust me, if I can afford it and am able to make it, that’s saying something.  We are by no means rich, and I am certainly no seamstress.  I have, however, gotten to a point where I felt like I could actually tell someone how to make these.  (I’ve made about 9 of them now, so surely I have learned something.  (And that’s A LOT of babies in one year’s time, and I’ve still got two more towels to make before this fall!  I think I know some fertile people, but I digress.))  So, without further hopping down rabbit trails, here’s the tutorial.

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What you will need:

  • One regular sized bath towel
  • One regular sized hand towel
  • Spool of thread to match
  • Scissors
  • Pins

What to do:

To make a basic towel, without any embellishments, you don’t really need anything other than the two towels and some thread.  Cut off all the tags and make sure you pull out all those plastic label attacher-thingies.  Lay aside the bath towel.  You’re going to make the hood first from the hand towel.

Cut off all four edges.

Cut off all four edges.

You’re going to want to cut off all the hemmed edges from the towel to cut down on the bulk of fabric you will later be sewing through.  If the sides of your towel are selvages, then you don’t have to cut them off unless you want to.  Your towel will need to be at least 24 inches long after you trim the edges.  It’s fine if it’s larger than that.  I think this one was about 27 inches long.  If you want to trim it down to 24 inches, go for it.

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Zig-zag or surge the long sides of the towel.

Zig-zag or surge the long sides of the towel.  This will keep the fabric from unraveling.  Thus, allowing the towel to last longer.

Fold the towel in half, short sides together.

Fold the towel in half, short sides together.

Once you’ve finished the sides, fold the towel in half.  In school, for some odd reason they called this fold “hamburger style.”  It always sounded weird to me, but if it works for you, then alrighty.

Hem the sides using a straight stitch.

Hem the sides using a straight stitch.

Okay, now close up the two sides of the towel using a straight stitch.  Sew as close to the edge as you can.  You do not want a lot of bulk that you will have to sew through in a minute.  Sewing up the sides will basically create a giant pocket.

Turn your towel inside-out.

Turn your towel inside-out.

Now that you’re done with the first part of making the hood, turn it inside-out.  From here, you’re going to want to tuck the side on your right into the side on your left.  (Right corner into left corner.)  I did not take a picture, but when lying flat, the towel will no longer be shaped like a square but rather a long, skinny rectangle.  (Hot dog style, anybody?)

Open up the rectangle, and you will get your hood.

Open up the rectangle, and you will get your hood.

Once you open up the hood, turn up the raw, bottom edge and pin it.  I like to pin it on either end and on either side of the bulky middle seam.  Use however many pins that you need.

A closer view of the bottom edge.

A closer view of the bottom edge.

Be sure that both the top and bottom pieces of fabric are folded over.

Sew a straight stitch down the bottom edge.

Sew a straight stitch down the bottom edge.

Alright, here comes the fun.  Sew a straight stitch across the bottom edge.  It will be bulky, especially in the middle where the seam is.  In fact, when I sew through the middle seam, I raise my presser foot, and slowly guide the fabric through.  If you go too fast, your needle will bend or break.  Slow and steady wins this race for sure.

Attach the hood to the middle top of the bath towel.

Attach the hood to the middle top of the bath towel.

Now, pin the hood to the outside of the bath towel.  Line it up in the middle of the towel.  I have discovered that most towels have a crease right down the middle of them from being folded on the shelf for so long, and I use that as a guide.  Also, cover all the ugly hood hem by the towel.  I just eyeball it and make sure the hood isn’t on the towel at an angle and pin it on both ends and on either side of the middle seam.

When I sew on the hood, I sew above the hood’s hemline.  It is less bulky above the line.  You just have to use your fingers and be thoughtful to be sure that you’re actually sewing the hood onto the towel.  If you run off the edge of the towel, carefully go back and try again.

Tack down the hood hem.

Tack down the hood hem.

Now, the thing that has driven me craziest with these towels is this little flap of a hem on the hood.  Since I attach the hood above the hemline, the whole hem can be flipped up and show off its ugliness.  I finally figured a way to at least make that not as easy to do that also won’t give my hands severe pain.  (You can hand sew the hem down, but because of carpal tunnel, I can’t do that.)  Anyway, simply make a short, straight stitch down both ends of the hood hem, and on either side of that middle seam (the same places where you did your pinning).  This will tack it down and keep it from flapping in the wind and being unsightly.

029And there you have it:  a basic hooded towel.  It’s cute; it’s practical; it’s easy.

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I followed a tutorial found here when I learned how to make these towels:  http://onesimplebliss.blogspot.com/2011/04/diy-hooded-towels.html.   This tutorial also has instructions for adding a ribbon to the hood.

As you can see in the pictures, I added an applique initial to the towel that I made.  It was fairly simple to do.  Use a pattern to cut out the letter from fabric and interfacing.  If you stack the fabric and interfacing together before cutting, you will be sure to have a perfect fit and will only have to cut once.  Lie the interfacing onto the center of the outside of the bath towel, and then place the fabric on top of it, lining them up together.  Using a low iron, iron it together, pressing gently with the tip of the iron on the edges of the letter (or shape).  Carefully, carry the whole thing over to the sewing machine, and with a zig-zag stitch, outline the edge of the shape.  I got mine on there a little crooked, but with an 18 month old pulling on the towel, it’s a wonder the letter made it on there at all.

I would also recommend adding the applique before you attach the hood to the towel, just to make it easier to turn the towel as needed to outline the shape.

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Buttermilk Pie

buttermilk pie

If you’ve never made a pie before, here’s a good starter pie for you.  Basic and simple, it is what folks around here might call a “hard times” pie.  There’s nothing fancy about it, but it is oh so tasty.  I found this recipe at http://www.chindeep.com/2012/04/05/buttermilk-pie/.  I used my step-mom’s recipe for the pie crust.  Give it a shot; you won’t regret it.

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Crust

*Makes 3 crusts.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • Approx. 10 tbsp. water (I used 7 or 8 this time around.)
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.
  2. Cut in shortening until it forms a coarse meal.
  3. Add vinegar and about 3 tablespoons of water.  Use a fork to mix into dry mix.
  4. Add the rest of water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.  Do NOT over-mix.  The dough will become hard and make for a tough crust.
  5. *If the dough does not seem firm enough, you can add one egg to the mix.
  6. Divide dough and roll out.
  7. Once it is rolled out nice and flat, carefully roll it around the rolling pin and place into the pie plate.  Gently, press it into the plate, and trim the edge with about a 1/4-1/2 inch overhang.
  8. Crimp the edge of crust, and prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork.
  9. Weigh down the crust with dry beans or a pie weight.
  10. Place pie plate on a cookie sheet (especially if using a disposable pie plate).  And place in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.
  11. Make pie filling while baking and cooling crust.

Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 prebaked 9-inch pie shell
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Mix together flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Whisk in melted butter.
  3. Whisk in eggs.
  4. Add buttermilk, vanilla, and nutmeg.
  5. Pour into cooled pie crust.
  6. Cook at 350 for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of pie comes out clean.  The pie will still be wiggly, but it will set up as it cools.
  7. Cool on wire rack.
  8. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
  9. For fun, add some chopped fruit as a topping.  Enjoy!

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pie crust

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Potato Logs

potato logs

Some people call them “potato logs,” some people call them “potato wedges,” and some people call them “jo-jo’s.”  But regardless of what name you refer to them as, I’m sure you call them “Good stuff.”  I have wondered how to make these for years – probably since I worked at a gas station in high school.  We sold them there, and since I was often the one “cooking,” I often wondered how the pre-cooked, frozen foods came to be in the first place, something I still do to this day, in fact.  Anyway, we hosted an Easter get together at our house a couple of weeks ago for some of my family.  We provided the fried chicken and biscuits, leaving the sides and stuff to everyone else.  However, knowing My Honey’s eating habits as I do, I thought I would cook some potato logs for his sake, but I couldn’t find any at the store.  Enter Google.  One quick search, and I came up with this KFC copycat recipe.  (http://deep-fried.food.com/recipe/kfc-potato-wedges-58942)  They are a little time intensive, but by no means hard.  (I mean, we’re talking about deep frying potatoes here.)  Well, I guess that’s all I know other than the recipe, and here it is.

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Ingredients:

  • shortening or oil (for frying)
  • 5 baking potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt (This can be cut down to about 1 1/2 tablespoons or even 1 tablespoon, if you like things low sodium.)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 dash garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat shortening to 375°F.
  1. Cut the potatoes into 16 to 18 equal size wedges.
  1. Mix the egg and milk till well blended in a big bowl.
  1. Mix the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  1. Put some potatoes in the milk and egg then into the flour mixture till well coated.
  1. Fry in fryer for 3 minutes, remove from the oil and allow them to sit for one minute and then cook them again for 5 minutes or until cooked.
  1. It may take up to 6 minutes.

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