The DevinMint Patty

In honor of my long time friend Devin whom I hadn't seen in ages, I created a really girly cocktail and named it after him. Behold, the Devinmint Patty:

1 cup milk
chocolate syrup
1/2 shotglass of vodka
1/2 shotglass of kaluha
dash of peppermint schnapps

Pour the milk and syrup into a shaker and stir with a spoon. Add the other ingredients and shake vigorously. Pour into a glass and serve with a straw. Grown up chocolate milk!


Mini Meat Pies

Fun and easy to make. And they're mini!

1 store bought refrigerated pie crust
1/2 onion, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
dash of allspice (optional)
dash of cinnamon (optional)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs

Remove 1 of the pie crusts from the box and leave out to warm up. Save the other crust for another time. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all the ingredients but the dough, but reserve about a tablespoon of the egg. Grease a muffin tin with butter. Using a 4-inch biscuit cutter (or a mug with that diameter), cut out six rounds from the dough. Reroll the scraps. Using a slightly smaller biscuit cutter (around 2.5 in.), create 6 more rounds. Punch a hole in the middle of the smaller rounds using a straw. Place the bigger rounds in the muffin tin and shape them to the tin. Add about 1/4 cup of the filling to each pie. Take out the bottom crust after forming it to the tin, add the filling and then place the small crust on top and pinch the edges together all around. Place back into the tin. Use any excess dough and filling to create extra pies. Brush the tops of the pies with the remaining egg and bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool about 10 minutes before eating. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.


Cheesy Cornbread Food of Some Type

I am running low on groceries and I was hungry for something salty, sweet, spicy and tangy. I scoured the cabinets and here's what I came up with.

1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 5 oz. can of evaporated milk
2 eggs
About 1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbs. melted butter
1 tsp.  Tabasco sauce
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 green pepper, diced
shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375. In a mixing bowl, combine the Jiffy mix, eggs, milk, sour cream and butter till well incorporated (there will be lumps). Add the Tabasco, green onions and pepper. Grease a casserole dish or muffin tin and add the batter. Top with cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until sides of cornbread are brown.
Now if only I had ingredients to make chili. If I had a fresh jalapeño and some frozen corn, I would have added those to this recipe.


Chunky Ascot Pattern

As you may have gathered, I'm all about knitted ascots. I'm also extremely lazy and I have a hard time concentrating on a project I can't finish in a few hours. I wanted to make an ascot on bigger needles. It would take less time and would probably have a different look (less grandma-ish).

I used inexpensive Lion's Brand chunky tweed and it only took me a couple of hours.

1 ball of chunky yarn
3 size 10 double point needles
darning needle
decorative button (optional)

M1FB -- make 1 stitch in the front and 1 stitch in the back of the same stitch, thus increasing the piece by 1 stitch

Cast on 2 stitches. M1FB of the first stitch, K the next stitch.
Continue to M1FB of the first stitch of every row till you have 16 stitches.
K 12 rows in garter stitch. I slip the first stitch of every row to keep the rows neat and even.
Next row: *Knit the first stitch, transfer the second stitch to the third double point needle.* Repeat * to end of row. You should have 8 stitches on each needle.
Starting with the needle that still has yarn attached to it, K1, P1 for 9 rows. Cut yarn, leaving a 6-inch tail.
With the other needle holding 8 stitches, leave a 6-inch tail and K1, P1 for 9 rows, but don't cut the yarn when done.
Next row: *Knit the first stitch from both the front and back needles together, then knit one from the front and one from the back.* Repeat * till there is 1 stitch on each needle. Knit these two stitches together. You should now have 12 stitches on one needle.
Knit in garter stitch till the work is long enough to go around your neck and touch the loop you just created.
Next row: *K1, K2tog* Repeat * to end of row. You should now have 8 stitches again.
K1, P1 for 9 rows.
Next row: M1FB in each stitch. You should now have 16 stitches.
Knit in garter stitch for 12 rows.
Next row: Knit the first 2 stitches together, K to end of row
Repeat the last row till there are 2 stitches remaining.
Bind off. Weave in tails. Sew on decorative button to one side of the loop if you desire.

The Best Thing I've Ever Made With Eggs

Sunday Morning Frittata

Olive Oil
1 Tbs butter
4 strips of center cut bacon
1 anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
5 crimini mushrooms, chopped
4 eggs, whisked thoroughly
2 slices rustic bread, cut into 9 cubes each
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the bacon to how to like it and set aside, reserving the bacon grease. When bacon is cool, break up into pieces. In a small saute pan, heat up a little olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, green onions and pepper and cook till mushrooms are soft. Turn off heat and set aside. In a medium oven-safe saute pan, add some of the bacon fat and heat up about 2 Tbs of olive oil. When hot, add the bread cubes and toast on all sides. Add the butter. When melted, add the eggs and stir just a little bit. Let sit for about 30 seconds or so and add all the other ingredients and stir a few times. Let sit for a minute and then put the pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream.


Chunky Fingerless Mitts

These fingerless mitts are a Knit Nat original. They knit up quickly -- perfect for the short attention span crafter.

Size 10 double point needles
One ball of cheap chunky yarn or two balls of fancy chunky yarn (pictured above is fancy chunky yarn)
Chunky scrap yarn
Darning Needle

Using 3 double pointed needles, cast on 26 stitches (8, 9, 9)
K1, P1 rib for 13 rows or until the cuff is as long as you desire
Round 14: K4, make 1 stitch in the front and back of next stitch (M1FB). Knit to last stitch on needle and M1FB again. K4 on the next needle and M1FB. Knit to end of needle. K4 on the third needle and M1FB. Knit to end of needle. You have increased the row by 4 stitches and should now have 30 stitches.
Knit 3 rounds
R18: M1, K1, M1, knit to end of round
All odd rounds: K one round
R20: M1, K3, M1, knit to end of round
R22: M1, K5, M1, knit to end of round
R24: M1, K7, M1, knit to end of round
R26: M1, K9, M1, knit to end of round
Knit 4 rounds
Transfer the first 11 stitches to a piece of scrap yarn.
Cast on one stitch. You should now have 30 stitches again.
Knit 6 rounds
K1, P1 rib for 4 rounds
Loosely bind off

Transfer the 11 stitches to two double pointed needles. With third needle, pick up and knit 4 stitches (make sure you leave at least a 6-inch tail of yarn). Knit one round. When you get back to the picked up stitches, K2tog twice, leaving you with 13 stitches total. Knit 5 rounds or till thumb is the length you prefer (you can try the mitt on at this point).
Bind off. Weave in tails. At the crotch of the thumb, use the extra tail to sew up any gaps.

Here is a pair I made with two kinds of worsted yarn knitted at the same time. They turned out really stiff and a little too big for my hands. They fit Stephen's perfectly, but they weren't his colors.

Here's some I made out of inexpensive Lion's Brand chunky yarn.

The Grover Collection

Merry Christmas to all! It was a relaxing day. I got sparkly Moon Boots and lots of yummy yarn. I am finally able to post some photos and patterns since they are no longer a surprise. Here is the collection I made for my sister with blue and teal yarn. The hat is a basic 72-stitch hat made on size 10 circulars. The ascot is the pattern I previously posted. The headband is a spin on Knitty.com's Calorimetry pattern.The fingerless mittens are my own pattern, which I will post presently.

Now it's time for Christmas goose and champagne!


Lucy's no-fuss spaghetti sauce

We had a lovely Christmas dinner with my brother and his family last Sunday. I made his mom's special spaghetti sauce with linguine and meatballs. She usually takes a basic Prego sauce and adds onions and mushroom. I make it from crushed tomatoes and add a little twist.

2 TBS unsalted butter
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
about 1/2 lb. crimini or button mushrooms, sliced with a hard-boiled egg slicer (way fast!)
2 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried oregano
salt and pepper
dash of red wine
sprinkle of red pepper flakes

Good for 1 lb. of pasta

Add butter and olive oil to a large sautee pan over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook till mushrooms are soft and have let off a lot of liquid and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add more butter or oil if pan gets dry. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the other ingredients. Simmer till pasta is done.

Check out how I sliced my mushrooms. It was an epiphany.

Meatballs and special sauce

Back in high school, my boyfriend's mother used to serve at her parties Hillshire Farms Lit'l Smokies with this delicious sauce.  I loved her recipe and when I asked for the ingredients, she told me it's their official recipe. I loved it so much that she brought it as a dish to our wedding upon my request.

For our work Christmas party this year, I combined my meatballs recipe with this delicious Hillshire Farms sauce. Super easy. Enjoy!

Meatballs and Special Sauce
Makes about 60 small meatballs

For the balls:
Two slices of white bread put through the food processor into coarse crumbs. Soak these in milk for a few minutes and squeeze out milk.
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 tsp. porcini powder (optional)
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried parsley
1 TBS tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
a couple of dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
splash of red wine
salt and pepper
a couple of shakes of pepper flakes (that rhymes!)

For the sauce:
1 jar of Chili Sauce (looks like ketchup)
1 jar of Concord Grape Jelly (NO JOKE)

Mix all the meatball ingredients together thoroughly and form into balls smaller than a golf ball. Place in a 375-degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, empty the chili sauce and grape jelly into a casserole dish or crock pot and heat until melted and combined. When meatballs are done, place them in the casserole dish and toss till balls are coated with the sauce. Serve with toothpicks at an ugly sweater party.

Winter Solstice, Anchorage, Alaska 2010

December 21 can be a strange day. In a sense it's depressing because it's the shortest day of the year. The sun rose at 10:11 a.m. and set at 3:41 p.m. Not a lot of daylight. But the solstice can also be uplifting. Every day after this day it will be lighter and lighter and before we know it, summer has arrived and the sun will never set.

We gained 17 seconds of daylight today.


Quinoa Burritos with Baconated Black Beans

These were the best beans I've ever made for taco night. No photo because we ate them all.

Baconated Beans
Add one can of black beans (do not drain) to a small saucepan. Turn heat to high and bring to soft boil. Mash up beans several times with a potato masher. Add one small clove of garlic, roughly chopped. Meanwhile, chop up a slice of bacon and brown in a pan.  Add the bacon and a pinch of salt and simmer till liquid cooks down, about 10 minutes.

Red Quinoa
Cook 1 cup of quinoa according to directions on bag. Add about 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce, a dash of salt, a dash of chili powder, a dash of cayenne powder and a couple of teaspoons of cumin.

Brown some meat and add taco seasoning. Combine shredded sharp cheddar, baconated beans, red quinoa, lettuce, sour cream and salsa to a tortilla. Roll it up and eat it up!


Pom pom party!

A couple of month's ago I acquired a big bag of craft pom poms (thank you Muggle in Pink!) and since then I've had no idea what to do with them.

Leave it to my favorite blogster, Attic 24, to inspire me with her pom pom creation

I don't think anything is more satisfying than stringing multicolored pom poms. A 15 minute project that I'll use all the time.



As per Muggle in Pink's request, here is my recipe for pot stickers/dumplings. You could use round gyoza wrappers to make a pot sticker shape, or you could use the square ones and make a dumpling where it looks like a Scrooge McDuck money sack.

Homemade pot stickers with teriyaki sauce

Makes about 36 dumplings

Ingredients for pot stickers:
½ lb ground pork
Less than ½ lb shrimp, cooked or raw, chopped finely
2 green onions, chopped finely
Less than one egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Dash of soy sauce
Dash of sesame oil
Dash of rice vinegar
Pot sticker or won ton wrappers

Ingredients for teriyaki sauce:
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup soy sauce, or to taste
Dash rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar

Mix all the pot sticker ingredients together, making sure it’s not too sloppy (measurements may vary). Spoon about a teaspoon into wrappers and dab edges with water. Fold into half moons (or make little pouches with square wrappers). Crimp edges for decoration.
Heat a large pan with a little sesame oil and vegetable oil, enough to coat pan. When hot, fry one side of pot stickers till brown, just a few minutes. Then add the teriyaki sauce ingredients, turn down heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve with rice and steamed edamame.
For a vegetarian version of pot stickers substitute shrimp and pork for chopped cabbage, blanched for a minute in boiling water and one shredded carrot.
To make a won ton soup, use the square wrappers and use egg to seal pouches shut. Instead of frying, you can boil this in a pot with the teriyaki sauce and serve with thin rice noodles and the broth.


Winter Wedding Flowers

My best friend got married today. It was a perfect Alaska wedding -- crisp, clear night, moon shining high in the starlit sky. Friends and family huddled closely as the couple exchanged their vows beneath a lit up arch draped with fresh evergreen garlands. The ceremony ended with the couple rubbing noses in the traditional Inupiaq way.

I got to make the flower arrangements for the reception. I made boutonnieres and corsages, but since the wedding party was all bundled up in sealskin parkas, most of them weren't used. That's fine by me because I love any chance I have to make boutonnieres.

The bride said her colors were white and red, but mostly white, so I bought two types of mums, some stock, white and red spray roses, some kind of white bushy filler (I don't dig baby's breath), and some sort of exotic budding flower that looked appealing to me. I also got 25 red roses and picked some spruce and birch branches from my yard.

Making corsages really isn't tough. Simple materials:
Floral wire
Floral tape
Pearl pins

I try to keep my designs simple. I don't like big honking roses that end up sagging by the end of the night, so I used one or two mums and a spray rose with a background of spruce and whatever the bushy filler I got.

When wiring a flower, cut the bloom leaving about 1-2 inches of stem. Poke about 6 inches of wire through the base of the bloom and wrap the wire around the stem, leaving about 3 inches of bare wire. Then tightly wrap the base of the bloom all the way to the tip of the wire.

When wiring a twig or non-bloom piece, just look for crux in the branch and fold the wire around it, and follow the instructions above.

Above is an example of some corsage pieces. After this, I just arrange the pieces and then wrap all the sticky stems together, like so:

Then using floral tape I wrap the entire thing from top to bottom. I curl the end of the corsage around a pen so it looks pretty.

Usually I make a bow and wire it up the same way and include it in the corsage, but the bride didn't want bows.

I made her a bouquet, which I think turned out lovely.

I also made a couple of arrangements. I put fresh cranberries in the vases and some glass marbles. I loved the effect, although after arranging I got a couple of cranberry floaters.

And then I decorated the base of the cake:

All in all, this was a great wedding and I'm so happy I had a part in it.


Non-traditional beef stew

No photo. Stew doesn't look good in photos. I love a traditional beef stew with the carrots, potatoes, peas and whatnot. Several years ago I found a mediterranean lamb stew in a random cookbook and since lamb is extremely expensive up here I used beef instead. It has become a staple in our household and was adamantly requested for tonight's meal.

1 Tbs cooking oil
About 1 pound cubed stew meat
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef stock (or chicken stock)
3 Tbs Wondra flour, or regular flour
3 cloves garlic
6 anchovy filets
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, stems removed OR 2 Tbs dried thyme
salt and pepper

Coat a large frying pan with cooking oil and turn heat to med-high. Salt and pepper the meat and add to hot pan. Brown on all sides. Meanwhile, mince the anchovies and garlic together till they are somewhat of a paste. Include the fresh thyme in this step, if using. Mix together the stock, wine and flour.
When meat is browned, add the wine, stock, flour, thyme, garlic, and anchovies. Stir, cover, and turn down heat once simmering. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add frozen peas or beans to stew if desired and recover till veggies are cooked.
Serve with buttered egg noodles.



We have way too many Christmas wrapping bows so I decided to make something out of them. Easiest craft of the day:

Just add some stuffing to flower pot. Add a couple of sheets of tissue paper to the top of stuffing and tuck in the sides of paper around the inside of the pot. Tape bows to the tissue. Voila!

Pesto, Pesto, Pesto!!!

My dad let me thin out his homegrown basil so naturally I had to make pesto sauce with homemade Italian sausage. The pesto recipe is as follows, but you've got to check out my dad's Web site for his Italian sausage recipe.

I use Marcella Hazan's blender pesto recipe, but tweak it depending on what ingredients I'm lacking. After several taste tests, my dad and I have concluded that if you can't afford pine nuts at $30 a pound, subbing shelled pistachios does not drastically alter the flavor the way walnuts do. It's actually quite tasty with pistachios. I can't really tell the difference.

Pesto sauce -- good for about 1.5 lbs. pasta

4-6 cups fresh basil, stems removed
3/4 - 1 cup olive oil (I start with less and add more if necessary)
1/4 cup pine nuts or peeled pistachios
3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with a chef's knife
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup freshly graded Pecorino Romano cheese (sub more Parm if you don't have this)
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled to room temp.

With a blender or food processor, blend the olive oil, pine nuts and garlic till combined. Slowly add the basil till well blended. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheeses. When butter is cooled, add to sauce. If a little thick, add more olive oil.

Make the sauce while the pasta is cooking.

Christmas tags

I love the holidays! It's only halfway through the month and I've done all my Christmas shopping. Our tree is overflowing with gifts:

This year I decided to get a little creative with the gift tags. Usually I buy tags from the thrift store. I found some cute vintage ones this year, which I used, but I also made my own gift tags out of paint chips. I printed off some gift tag templates and traced them onto free paint samples from the hardware store. They turned out so well!

Last night I decided to embellish some gifts by making an initial out of a pipe cleaner.

Easy to make: I drew a large cursive letter on a piece of paper and then curved the pipe cleaner to match. Where the pipe cleaner intersects with itself I twisted it around so it would stay put.

Inexpensive and it makes the present that much more special.


Chicken Parmesan

No picture, but a good way to use chicken breasts in a tasty way. Serves 3-4
Use my Meatballs Recipe but substitute 2 chicken breasts. Roughly chop the chicken and put into the food processor till ground. Form into 3 or 4 big flat patties. Dredge in bread crumbs and fry in a large sautee pan with hot vegetable oil for a few minutes on both sides. If center isn't quite cooked, microwave for a couple of minutes. Smother in marinara sauce!


Crocheted Ornaments

Never did I think crocheting would look attractive, especially in Christmas ornament form. I guess it all depends on the yarn, but I've been having fun making these. I've included my pattern below, but if you want a real pro's pattern, visit my favorite crochet artist's  Ornament Tutorial.
Here's our little tree.

I don't know what size hook I used, nor do I know how to write crochet patterns, but here's sort of how I made them.

Make 2 of the following pattern:

Round 1: Chain 5 and form into a loop. Chain 2 and DC into loop 11 times (12 spokes). Join to 2nd stitch of first chain. Bind off.
Round 2: Between two of the spokes, bring in new color and Chain 2. DC once into the same space, DC twice in every other chain space (24 spokes). Join to 2nd stitch of first chain. Bind off.
Round 3: In a space between two sets of two spokes, bring in new color and chain 3. DC twice more into same space, skip 2 spokes and DC 3 times in the bigger space. Repeat till end of round. Join to 3rd stitch of first chain. Bind off. (If making a small size, skip to round 5).
Round 4: In space between two sets of three spokes, bring in new color. Chain 3 then DC three times into same space. Skip next 3 spokes and DC four times in the bigger space. Repeat till end of round. Join to 3rd stitch of first chain. Bind off.
Round 5: With wrong sides facing from both circles, join with new color by inserting hook into an outer stitch of both circles and pulling yarn through to the front. Single chain each stitch (not in between the spokes like the other rounds, but into the stitch on the outside of the round). Make sure to go through both circles with each single chain. Repeat SC till there's about 2 inches of open space left between the two circles. Place a little bit of stuffing inside till it's stuffed to your liking. Finish off the SC border. Join to first stitch of the round then chain for 4 inches to make a loop. Join to the beginning of the chain. Weave in ends.


Big Batch of Chili

I like it spicy!

Ingredients (all spices are eyeballed):
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 anaheim pepper, chopped
1-2 TBS cumin
2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz. can chopped tomatoes with green chilies
1 can chili beans with flavored sauce
1 can white beans, drained but not rinsed
1/2 cup beef broth
1 zucchini, diced

Brown the beef over medium high heat. Don't drain the fat. Add the onion and peppers and saute till onions are soft. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, broth and beans and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and cook until you're too starving to wait any longer. Add the zucchini ten minutes before serving. Zucchini is optional. Top with shredded sharp cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.

I think this is South Beach Diet friendly!


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