Monday, March 11, 2013

Olivia's Hello Kitty Hat and Scarf

 Miss O is my niece and also my Goddaughter.  This little hat was conjured up with her sweet face in my mind.

I'm kicking myself for not writing the pattern down.  Yes, you heard it.  I didn't write the pattern down, I just "winged-it"...

Apparently I DID write this pattern down! What a ninny. :)  I wrote it on my ravelry project page.  Whoohoo.  Here it is:

"I" Hook
Cotton Bernat yarn for hat
Caron simply soft for bow

Magic circle 8hdc then increase* by 8 each round (no chain one, no sl st, just use a marker to know when a new round is being made)
After initial 8 hdc in magic circle follow the pattern as follows:
Rnd 1:[ 2 hdc in first stitch, hdc in next] Repeat around. (16 hdc)
Rnd 2: [2hdc, hdc, hdc] Repeat (24 hdc)
Rnd 3: [2hdc, hdc, hdc, hdc] Repeat (32 hdc)
Increase to 63 stitches , then decrease* by 8hdc.

*Decrease Round:
 Rnd 9: [hdc, hdc, hdc, hdc, hdc, hdc, hdc2tog] Repeat around (56hdc)

Rnd 10: One row of 1hdc in each stitch. (56 hdc)

Rnd 11: Repeat Rnd 9 (decrease round) 48 hdc

 Repeat Rnd 10 until the size you want.  

I then did three rows of sc with the rose colored yarn.  

Lay hat flat. 
Right ear: (stitches are worked around the post of hdc’s) 

  • Refer to my less than stellar artwork for more clarification. ;)

Working on the right edge of the hat:
First:  join yarn to the post of hdc  (on picture this is labeled as "1"), ch 1
Second: work 10 dc (double crochets) around the post of hdc of the st directly above that same st that you joined. (Labeled "2")

Third:  sl st around post of st directly above that st for step 2, ch 1 turn. (Labeled "3")

Now work this row across the 10 dc:  sc, sc, sc, dc, dc, dc, dc, sc, sc, sc. 
 Join with sl st to 1st ch 1. FO. Pull ends through to the inside of the hat. Tie off and weave in all ends.
Left ear: (Refer to drawing)
The left ear is worked the same as the right ear WITH THE EXCEPTION that you work in the opposite direction.  Take note of this on the drawing.

I made the bow by stitching a rectangle using hdc.  I sl st around it; Then using a needle, I weaved the yarn down the middle and cinched it.  I wrapped yarn around the middle then attached it to the hat near one of the ears. 

Giving a little smolder for the camera.

There's my sweet girl

The ever popular "duckface"
I believe I used an H hook** I used an I hook**and did hdc in a round, using a stitch marker so there wouldn't be any seam.  I know I decreased a row or two toward the end to give more of a rounded look.  The band at the end is single crochets with a slip stitched border.   Hopefully that makes sense to anyone who wants to know.

The scarf is made with hdc and tassels in red and pink.  Very basic.

I can almost feel Olivia's sweet snuggle and hear her praise, "Oh Auntie, I'm so proud of you."
She's so stinkin' cute. :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mexican? Goulash?

My "go to" Meal

Everyone has to have a "go to" meal.  It is the meal for which you know you always have the ingredients in the cupboard and can whip up anytime.  My go to meal is Mexican goulash.

Just how it became Mexican goulash is slightly confusing.  It's based on a dish my Nana used to make at every family gathering.  She called it Tamale pie... only as far as I ever remember, it was never a pie... Somewhere along the line, we weren't able to get the same brand of canned tamales that my Nana used, so my mom kind of switched up the recipe and started calling it Mexican goulash.   I'm not even sure what the technical definition of a "goulash" is, and I'm sure my friends in Mexico would deny that it's truly "Mexican".  Alas, this dish by any other name is still tasty :)

Forgot to put the can of tomatoes in the picture!!
Dump the following ingredients into a crockpot or 2qt. casserole dish:

3 cans of beans
             (kidney, pinto, black)
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes (chunky salsa also works in a pinch)
1 can small whole olives

Now here's where you make it your own.
I like to add some kind of meat, but I have family members who prefer it vegetarian, so sometimes we leave the meat out.
 I have added:

  • canned tamales-cut up
  • browned hamburger 
  • browned ground chicken 
  • browned ground turkey
  • canned shredded chicken 
  • cooked chicken breasts-cut up 
  • leftover taco meat...

I would have to say my favorite is ground turkey.

I make my own taco seasoning.
 Add the seasoning to whatever meat you choose...or if going veggie, add the seasoning directly into the crockpot or dish.

1 pkt taco seasoning 
              I make my own, but I've never written down a recipe. Here are my ingredients:
             (minced onion, chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and salt)
1 package shredded cheddar cheese

My homemade taco seasoning
in an old parmesan
cheese container.

If you're preparing this in the crockpot, don't add the cheese until ready to serve. Set crockpot to low for all day, or to high for a few hours.

If using the oven and a casserole dish then mix in the cheddar cheese and leave a little to sprinkle on the top. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Condiments for Mexican Goulash
  • sour cream
  • hot sauce
  • jalapenos

We also like to have some sort of bread with our Mexican Goulash... here are our choices:
  • cornbread
  • tortillas
  • Fritos
  • Tortilla chips
Mexican Goulash.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps

My version of PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I had never been to a PF Chang's restaurant until this past summer on our trip out to Colorado.  I have no idea if a PF Chang even exists in Iowa...Someone should get on that.

Anyway, my mother in law ordered the chicken lettuce wraps and let me have a taste.  She's real sweet like that. :)  I loved it.  I don't even remember what I ordered.  Seriously, I couldn't tell you.  But I do remember those lettuce wraps.  So I googled copycat recipes and I found this one HERE.  As with any recipe, I'm never content to just do as I'm told, so I have tweaked this one into my own version, but many of the ingredients are still the same.

Go ahead and start your rice first... I absolutely love Basamati rice.  It is the only rice I ever use.  So. yummy.

Start off with about a pound of chopped chicken.  You can do this a couple of different ways.  I prefer to just buy ground chicken.  No fuss, no messy chopping... it's great.  I have also done it with partially thawed chicken breasts.  I say "partially thawed" because this makes for the easiest way to chop the chicken into pretty little cubes.

Cook the minced chicken over medium heat in a large skillet.  Mince half of a small onion.  The recipe calls for much more, but I have found it to be too much for my family.
chopped chicken breasts and half of a small onion, minced.
A plethora of ingredients including finely
chopped water chestnuts 
 The most difficult part of this recipe is just the uniqueness of the ingredients.  I mean... what the heck is Hoisin sauce?  I've never had that in my pantry, but now, it's a staple.  It's like China in a bottle.  Tasty.

Add to the skillet:
2 TBS minced garlic (I buy the squeezable kind)
1 TBS soy sauce
1/4 c. hoisin sauce
2 tsp. minced ginger (again, squeezable rocks)
1 TBS Rice wine vinegar
(you can also use red wine vinegar)

When the rice is just about finished and needing to be drained... add the last two ingredients to the chicken:

1 can water chestnuts finely chopped 
2 tsp. sesame seed oil

 Now, many recipes will call for Bib lettuce, and if we had a grocery store that actually carried it, I might use it.  But I have found that Romaine lettuce leaves do nicely.  Cut off the core and the worn tips, separate the leaves and give them a good hosing down.  The smaller leaves in the center, I find, to be the best ones.
Chicken, Basamati Rice, and Romaine Lettuce leaves.

So that's it.  Fresh and tasty. Enjoy.