A day at Coney Island


Baked Mac & Cheese

In case you don't know this, my all-time favorite food is homemade mac & cheese. As a kid my dad would make "manyghetti," which was all the leftover pastas in the cupboard mixed together with sharp cheddar, garlic, parsley and pepper. My dad would cube up the cheddar so every once in a while you'd get a nugget of melty cheese in a bite.

My dad never baked his mac & cheese. He never put egg in it. And he never topped it with potato chips.

This is what I was craving tonight.

So I didn't feel too guilty I used pasta infused with veggies and added some broccoli.

Here's how to make it.

1 box of veggie delite pasta (or whatever kind you want to use. This box was 13 oz.)
1/2 bag frozen chopped broccoli
2.5 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
2 green onions, chopped
2 Tbs. butter
1 egg
3/4 cups milk
1 tsp. dijon mustard
salt and pepper
cheddar and sour cream potato chips (or just regular potato chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square casserole dish. Salt a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Cook the pasta till it's al dente. Whisk the egg and milk together. Place the frozen broccoli in a colander in the sink. Drain the pasta over the broccoli. Put the pot back on the stove and melt the butter. Add the green onions and sautee for about 1 minute. Add the pasta and broccoli and pour in the egg milk mixture and dijon. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2/3 of the shredded cheese and stir. Pour everything into the casserole dish and top with shredded cheese. Crumble potato chips over everything and bake for 20 minutes.


Tea Wallet -- A Photo Tutorial

Here's a step-by-step guide to sewing a tea wallet. It's a good way to use up scraps. Enjoy!

Two different patterns of cotton fabric
light interfacing
one snap
sewing machine
needle and thread

The wallet is made of five parts: The outside material (piece A), the inside material (also piece A), the two inside pockets (pieces B and C) and a little strap to fasten the wallet together (not pictured below).

The body of the wallet is 6.5 inches wide x 4 inches tall.
The first pocket is 6.5"x 3"
The second pocket is 6.5" x 2.5"
The little strap is made from the outside material and it's 1.5" x 3"

The first thing you'll need to do is iron on some light interfacing to the inside parts of the wallet, namely the inside A pattern and the B and C patterns. It's up to you what material you use for the pockets, but I like pocket B to be made of the outside material and pocket C to be made of the inside material.

Cut the interfacing for patterns A, B and C and iron the shiny side of the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.

Turn down the top edge of pockets B and C and iron flat. Sew a straight stitch across the top edge of each pocket.

Arrange pocket C on top of pocket B, which is on top of inside piece A. Baste along the side edges of the pockets. Fold these basted pieces in half and iron. Make a stitch along the ironed line from the base of the wallet to the top of pocket B, making sure to backstitch. This creates a dividing line between each side of the wallet.

Next, you'll make the little strap. Iron in the long edges of the strap and then fold the piece in half and iron. Basically, you're making a small piece of bias tape. Sew along the ironed edge of the tape.

Sew one side of a snap to the outside piece of pattern A, about an inch inward. Place the raw edge of the little strap on the opposite edge of the outside pattern A, facing inward. Pin outside piece A to inside piece A, right sides together and sew all around the edge, leaving a 2-inch space open at the top of the wallet, closer to the snap side.

Trim the edges of the wallet except for the top edge. Turn right side out and iron flat. Sew the opening shut, very close to the edge.

Next, place the tea bags and sugar packets in the wallet and figure out how long the little strap should be in order to reach around to the snap on the body of the wallet. Trim the strap accordingly, fold under the raw edge, then fold it again and sew it down. My machine didn't feel like sewing this part, so its easier to hand sew for me.

Finally, sew the other side of the snap to the inside of the little strap.


Not-so-bad-for-you Creamy Potato Salad

It's BBQ season and you know what that means -- salads of all types. I'm not wild about macaroni salad or pre-dressed asian salad. I'm not even that crazy for potato salad. Usually it's heavy with mayonnaise and overcooked eggs. But substitute Fage fat free plain yogurt for most of the mayo and you've got something worth adding to your paper plate.

Serves a lot
3 lbs. thin-skinned purple potatoes, roughly cubed
6 slices of bacon
3 Tbs. capers
3/4 cup Fage fat free plain yogurt (or any plain Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 Tbs. dijon
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Place the cubed potatoes in a large pot and fill with water an inch above the potatoes. Add some salt, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 8 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but not mushy. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel for 30 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, chop up the bacon into little bits and fry until brown and crispy. Let drain on a paper towel.
Add all of the ingredients to the potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tea Bag Wallet

In high school I used to make wallets. They had credit card slots and velcro, just like old-school nylon wallets. For a while I've been tinkering with the idea of using my wallet knowledge to create something where you could have tea and sugar on the go. Say you're at a restaurant and you prefer your fancy tea over the cheap stuff. You could just ask for hot water, pull out your tea wallet from your purse and you'd have a cup of the tea you love.

This project took longer to make than I expected, so I'll have to toy with the pattern before posting any kind of tutorial. I like how it turned out, though. There's room for two tea bags and two sugar packets. I was thinking of snagging honey packets from KFC if I were to give this as a gift.


Cooking with Fireweed

It's just starting to be spring here in Alaska and that means the fireweed has started to come up. The small reddish shoots are edible, but I'd never actually tried eating them till this week.

My mom and I went on a fireweed hunt and came back with quite a harvest.

We decided to prepare them as I did the fiddlehead ferns. We blanched them in boiling water for 3 minutes, put them in an ice bath and then sauteed them in garlic olive oil and pine nuts. They were pretty good! Not as tasty as the fiddleheads, but definitely worth the effort.

When picking fireweed shoots, try and get as much of the stem as possible, as that's the tastiest part. I would strip off any big leaves as they tend to be bitter. The bigger the plant the more bitter it tastes, so try and pick ones that haven't really grown a lot. Here's a photo.

We rinsed the shoots in cold water and dried them in a salad spinner. We also tossed some into a chicken stir fry. It was a good way to bulk up the stir fry. They looked a little stringy and not too appetizing, but they offered good sustenance.


Contest Winner Has Been Chosen!

Thanks to all who entered the Knit Nat Giveaway. The winner was chosen and contacted this morning.

Keep your eyes peeled for any upcoming giveaways, as I plan on doing this in the future.



Flat sheets really come in handy -- another Tokyo tie bag

After making a Tokyo Tie Bag the other day, I decided to experiment with the dimensions and make a bag that has a size I prefer. I like the dimensions of the pattern I was given, but I wanted it a little deeper and the handles a little longer. So I busted out my butcher paper and made a better pattern. Here's a photo of the original pattern on top of a pair of pyjamas.

I just added two inches to the bottom of the bag and three inches to the top where the handle is.

The dimensions are as follows:

  • The height of the handle is 1 and 1/8th inch
  • The length from the top of the handle to the first line is 12 inches
  • The first line is 2.5 inches tall
  • The length from the first line to the second line is 2.75 inches
  • The second line is 5.75 inches (also the same height as the bottom of the bag)
  • The length from the second line to the bottom of the bag is 8.25 inches

I drew the curves out by hand between the two lines and the top of the handle.
After I figured that out I transferred the pattern to a piece of tagboard I nabbed from a boot box (thank goodness I work at a shoe store -- endless supplies of cardboard). So now I have a stiff pattern so all I have to do is trace around it on my fabric and cut it out. Presto!

Anyway, to get to this posting's title, I never use flat sheets on our bed. But they make awesome curtains and scrap fabric. I used a dark red flat sheet as the lining for my new purse.

Look at that 400 thread count Egyptian cotton! The handles are just the right length to sling over my shoulder.

New Knit Nat Tag

I've been trying different ways to make tags for my purses, and after finding a 10-cent piece of cotton ribbon stuff and some rubber stamps at Michaels, I came up with this:


Embellished Sweater

Several months ago I purchased this sweater from Her Tern Boutique:

I love the flower embellishments. The petals seem to be made of sweater material and were hand sewn onto the garment.

I had a couple of sweaters I never wear, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I made a little petal template out of tagboard and cut out five petals for each flower. I pinned them in place and then sewed them onto the sweater. Then I used embroidery thread to make the center of each flower.

 I think I might add more tonight, but I wanted to wear my newly refashioned sweater to work.


Knit Nat Crafts Giveaway -- Enter to Win!

Creativity is in the air here at Knit Nat AK, which means it's time for a crafty giveaway. One lucky person will win a hand made craft from Knit Nat!

Here's how to enter:

  1. Visit www.knitnatak.blogspot.com and scroll to the bottom of the page where it lists the blog's followers
  2. Click the "follow" button and enter your Gmail account address
  3. Any person who becomes a follower in the next FIVE days will be entered into a drawing
  4. On May 6 a random follower's name will be chosen 
  5. Knit Nat will contact the winner and will mail out a crafty item ABSOLUTELY FREE. Pay no shipping!

Becoming a Knit Nat AK blog follower is simple and hassle free. You won't receive e-mails from me (unless you request it). It's a fun way to support your friends and to keep up on crafty ideas.

So sign up to win! 

Hubby Cook -- Breakfast egg cups

My husband left today on a two-week road trip through Canada. He knows it makes me sad to see him go, so he made us breakfast this morning. This is a rare occurrence since he claims he can't cook. How wrong he was! After devouring two of his ham and cheese egg cups, I am convinced that I'm not the only one making dinner from here on out!

He got the recipe from Cook's Country Magazine. It was a laborious preparation -- he said -- but the results were pretty tasty. The bread had the texture of puff pastry and all of the ingredients blended well.

Here's how to make it.

Makes 5 servings

5 eggs
5 slices white sandwich bread with the crusts cut off
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
5 thin slices of cheddar
3 thin slices of black forest ham, halved crosswise
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place eggs in a large bowl of hot water for 10 minutes.
Using a rolling pin, roll the pieces of bread till they are thin. Pinch the sides of the bread and fit each one into little ramekins or a muffin tin. Brush each piece with butter and bake until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.
Top each cheese slice with a ham slice. Make a cut from center to one side of each stack. Shape it into a cone and press into the toasted bread. Crack an egg into each ramekin/muffin tin and season with salt and pepper.
Bake about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let sit about 5 minutes.


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