Peppers stuffed with Italian Sausage

I've never been a big fan of bell peppers, but since I'm pregnant and I'm supposed to eat my veggies I thought I should give them a chance. They're high in dietary fiber and vitamins A, C, K, and B6.

My husband is on the South Beach Diet in an attempt to lose weight (I think there's some truth in husbands gaining weight when their wives are pregnant). I want to cook him yummy carb-free food.

The best South Beach Diet Web site I've been able to find is www.kalynskitchen.com. It's full of recipes that would be appropriate for people on the South Beach Diet, but these recipes are also awesome for anyone wanting to eat healthy food.

I found a recipe there for stuffed bell peppers and they looked delicious and right up my alley. What a great way to get me to enjoy bell peppers -- mix it with italian sausage and cheese. I tweaked the recipe a bit by adding ground up pistachios and garlic and using pork sausage instead of turkey (which I realize is a less healthy choice, but I freaking love pork sausage). The pistachios acted like bread crumbs and added a little more bulk and depth to the dish. I'm also spoiled because I used homemade Korshin Italian sausage.

I served the peppers with steamed green beans and it was truly a meal worth repeating.

Serves 3

3 bell peppers, a mixture of red and green
1/2 pound ground beef
4 Italian sausages, removed from casings (or 1/2 lb. loose sausage)
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
dash of dried basil
dash of oregano
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup or so freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown the beef and sausage together over medium heat. Break up the meat as much as possible while you cook. Meanwhile, chop a couple of the bumps off the bottom of each pepper so they sit flat. Reserve the chopped bits. Chop the tops off the peppers and clean out each one. Cut around the stem of the cut-off tops and chop finely with the pepper bottoms.

Add the pistachios to a small food processor and grind till it's the consistency of coarse corn meal. It doesn't have to be perfect.

When the meat is browned, set aside and add the oil to the pan. Add the peppers and onions and saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, basil and pepper and cook till garlic is fragrant, stirring often for about 4 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and add the marinara sauce and pistachios. Cook for another few minutes. Turn the heat off and let cool for 5 or 10 minutes. Add all the cheese, but reserve some mozzarella to sprinkle on top of the peppers.

Make sure all the ingredients are combined and fill the peppers, packing in the filling tightly and letting it mound on top of the peppers. Top with mozzarella cheese and loosely cover with a foil tent so the foil doesn't touch the cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes or till the cheese is brown on top.

Serve with steamed green beans tossed with butter, pepper, parmesan cheese and lemon juice.

Thrift Find 8

I love Craigslist!

We've been putting the nursery together the last few weeks and I've decided if I were to pick a theme it would be "Vintage Circus." I just love vintage colors like rust, aqua and dandelion yellow. I also don't want an overly cutesy nursery with one or two colors dominating. I want to be able to live in the room and love it too.

I found some vintage Fisher Price toys today on Craiglist. I was surprised they hadn't been scooped up yet, considering the low price. I got the toys as soon as I got off work. I know our boy won't find them useful for a long time, but at least they will look perfect in his room till he's ready to play with them. The woman who sold them to me was really happy they were going to a family that would get more use out of them as her kids did.

I think the toys are from the '60s. One of them has a copyright of 1961. They are in great shape and are ready to be played with!

Tippy clown. Our child will be terrified of clowns!

Putt Putt Plane. Head bobs when it's pulled 
Tractor. The wheels wobble when it's pulled

Musial Chime and Wobble Dog


Tuxedo Onesie!

I had so much success with my homemade T-shirt onesie, I couldn't resist making one out of a tuxedo T-shirt I got from the thrift store.


Click here for a tutorial.

T-shirt Onesie -- A Tutorial

I've been in full baby crafting gear lately. Last night I sewed a couple of little pants and I've been tinkering with the idea of making a onesie out of an old T-shirt. I have a special one in mind, but I thought I should test it out on a junker first. Success!

It was about a 45-minute project. And here's how I made it:

A small adult T-shirt, or a child's size shirt
A store-bought onesie (to use as a guide)
Velcro (the kind you have to sew on, not stick on)
Stretchy materials needle (recommended, but not required)


First, turn your T-shirt inside out and fold it in half down the middle. Fold your store-bought onesie in half down the middle and lay it on top of the T-shirt so the collars line up and the shoulders/sleeves run along the top. Cut around the onesie leaving about 1 inch of a border on the sleeves and sides but about 2.5 inches at the bottom crotch area. You should end up with one piece of fabric where the front and back are connected at the collar/shoulder/sleeve area.

Trim the sleeve edges how you prefer. The sleeves just happened to end up right where the big shirt sleeve began so there was a sewn edge that made it easy to trim.

Turn under the edges of the legs (there should be four of them) and sew in place. This looks pretty rough since I didn't have a mini screwdriver to install my stretch needle. When you sew jersey be sure you stretch it out as you're sewing it so there is give to the seams.

Sew along the sleeves and sides of onesie using a half-inch seam allowance.

Turn right-side out and turn under the bottom crotch flap of the front twice over. This will add extra thickness to better stabilize the velcro. Pin and sew in place.

Next, turn up the bottom crotch flap of the back, but just once over. You want the back flap to be about two inches longer than the front flap once the edges are turned under. Pin and sew in place.

I chose to use three squares of velcro, but a strip would work also. Sew the softer side of the velcro to the wrong side of the back flap. Sew the rougher strip of velcro to the RIGHT SIDE of the front flap.

And there ya have it -- a make-your-own onesie. This would be a fun project if you had a sports team T-shirt or a TUXEDO T-shirt, which is the reason I wanted to try this out. Stay tuned for my tuxedo onesie in the next couple of weeks.

And, as always, please contact me if part of this tutorial isn't clear.


Heart Garland

My little sister's best friend had to move away from home for medical reasons so I thought I might send her some cheer for her new temporary home.

I found a great pattern for crocheted hearts here. I only ended up doing the first two rows and they worked for me just fine. They went by so fast that I didn't even realize how many I had made by the time the TV show I was watching was over.

Hopefully this garland isn't too granny-ish for her, but I almost wanted to leave them up at my house. I can always make more!


Quick and Healthy Mini Pizzas

I've been trying to think of healthy dinners for my pregnant self. Whole grains and protein are essential for a healthy pregnant diet. Also, I really like pizza. While perusing the grocery store this evening, I came across Oroweat Sandwich Thins.

Mini pizza instantly came to mind. Mozzarella has protein and calcium and the thin breads are whole wheat. Hello, healthy pizza!

This recipe is pretty much a no-brainer. It would be a fun idea if you have kids because picky eaters could pick the toppings they prefer.

Oroweat Sandwich Thins
Marinara sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Pizza toppings of your choice (I used one mushroom, sliced, and five olives, sliced)

Turn on your toaster oven to bake at 450 degrees. You could also heat up your oven to this temp, but the toaster oven is really convenient if you're only making one serving, plus you can conveniently through the window.

Spread the marinara on the open faces of the Sandwich Thins. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella. Add your toppings.

Place in oven till cheese is melted and starting to brown on edges, about 7 minutes.



Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry with Tofu Steaks

My mom dropped off some baby bok choy yesterday. I've never cooked with it before, so I thought I'd make something healthy for dinner.

My husband wants to start the South Beach Diet and I've been researching recipes to make for him. I found a yummy-sounding recipe for baked tofu steaks and I thought that would go great alongside some sort of Asian-style bok choy.

Here's the recipe for the tofu, from a really informative cooking site http://www.kalynskitchen.com.

And here's how I prepared the baby bok choy. All liquid measurements are approximate as I eyeball pretty much everything.


6-8 baby bok choys, cut in half lengthwise
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp hot sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 packages of top ramen, spice packets discarded
sesame seeds

When there's about 10 minutes left on the tofu steaks (they take about an hour), bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat oils in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Toss in the garlic and begin to brown it. A couple of minutes later add the green onions. When the garlic is lightly brown, add the chicken stock, soy sauce and vinegar. Then add the bok choy, turn the heat to high, and cover the pan for about 6 minutes.

When the water is boiling, add the two noodle packets and cook for about three minutes, or until al dente. Drain the noodles and add to the bok choy. Add more stock if you want a little more liquid. Toss all of the ingredients together and fry until bok choy is tender, just a couple of more minutes.

Serve with tofu steaks and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Printer Cozy -- A Tutorial

I'm trying to streamline our living room and I'm almost there. We've got the bookshelves organized, video games stashed away and pretty accoutrements scattering the room. The one big eyesore is the printer. It's this boxy plastic thing that makes me cringe when I look at how sleek the rest of the room is.

So I actually made a cozy for it. I've never been a big fan of cozies -- tea, blender and the like -- but this printer needed one. I didn't use a pattern and I just followed my sewing instincts. I have to toot my own horn here. It turned out just great!

Here's how I constructed it.

Step 1: Measure all the sides of the printer. The paper tray on ours can't be removed so I made sure to measure how far it sticks out. I decided to have one panel for the top and front of the printer and one panel to go around the sides and back of printer. Then there were two triangular areas where tray sticks out from the front so I had to figure out the measurements of that.

I added an inch to each measurement for selvedge. The top front panel was 21.5 inches in length by 20 inches in width. The sides and back were 40.5 inches in length and 11 inches in height. The printer tray stuck out 5.5 inches (6.5 with selvedge) and the height was 10 inches (11 with selvedge). I made a triangle where one side was 6.5 inches and the other side was 11. Then I connected those sides to complete the triangle. I think it was around 12.5 inches.  Whew! That's a lot of measurements! Here's a visual:

Squarish panel is the top/front, rectangle is the side/back/side

Make two triangles, but be sure one is cut on the right side and the other on the wrong side.

Step 2: I pinned all the pieces together to see that it would fit properly around the printer. When pinned altogether it should look like an inside-out cozy.

This is before I realized I needed the triangle panels

With triangle panels

Step 3: Sew the long side of the triangles (the one with the 90-degree angle to the short side) to the edges of the side panels. Iron seams flat.

Triangles sewn!

Step 4: Pin the side panel to the top/front panel. Again, it should now look like an inside-out cozy.

Step 5: Sew along the longest side of the triangle and all around the pinned edge. You're almost done! I had one side of my triangle that didn't quite match up so I just trimmed it so it was flush with the edge of the cozy.

Step 6: Turn up the raw edge and iron. I placed the cozy inside-out on the printer to see if I had enough length to fold the hem up again so there weren't any raw edges along the hem, but I didn't, so I just made do. Sew along the hem.

Step 7: Iron all the sides right-side-out so it makes a box shape. Place on top of your printer. Yay, hidden printer!

Please let me know if you have any questions about making this project, as I've never tried to explain such a thing.


20-minute Baby Pants!

I was nearly devastated the other day when my 8-year-old hand-me-down pajama pants ripped in the rear. They were my favorite. As you can see, they have little wiener dogs on them.

too much booty in the pants!

So instead of throwing them out, I stashed them for a rainy day. Well, it's not really raining today, but it's cold enough that my car won't start. So I decided to make some tiny pants out of larger pants.

I used a super simple pattern from make-baby-stuff.com and they turned out splendidly. Here's my childhood bear, Bosh, modeling them.

They sew up in a flash so I used some leftover baby material from a quilt I made a couple of months ago and made another pair. Lickety split! They are even quicker to sew when you use the hem of the big pants as the hem of the small pants. It's basically six seams if you include the leg hems, inseams, rise and elastic casing. It's really a great beginner project.

I can't wait to put them on my real child.


Brown Rice Primavera

I love parmesan cheese, and I mean the real stuff, not the pre-grated kind that comes in a bag. The real stuff is extremely expensive up here in Alaska so it's pretty much a treat when I decide to shell out at Costco for a big wedge of it.

I saw a recipe the other day for a quinoa primavera dish that sounded really delicious. I decided to make that, but to use brown rice instead of quinoa. Yes, I know quinoa is amaaaaazing and super good for you, but heck, I just love brown rice.

The dish I came up with was cheesy, nutty and full of flavor. Also, it's chock full of veggies so I don't feel so bad about myself when I stuff my belly.

This makes enough to feed four plus lunch leftovers.


For the rice
1.5 cups dry brown rice
2.5 cups chicken stock
1 tbs. butter

Rest of the ingredients:
1/2 brick of cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs. olive oil
4 cups frozen mixed veggies (or fresh if you happen to be fancy)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded leftover chicken (optional)
salt and pepper

I ALWAYS use Alton Brown's recipe for brown rice in the oven. It comes out perfectly every time. This time I used chicken stock instead of water and did not add any salt to the rice.

To make his oven rice, preheat oven to 375 and bring the water (or stock) to a boil in a saucepan. Place dry rice in a square baking dish and add the butter. Pour the boiling stock over the rice and stir till butter is melted. Cover tightly with foil and bake for exactly 1 hour. It's foolproof fluffy, tasty rice.

When there's about 10 minutes left on the rice, start steaming the veggies. Then heat the olive oil in a small pan and add the garlic. When garlic is lightly browned, add the cooked brown rice, the cream cheese, basil, parmesan cheese, steamed veggies and chicken. Toss over low heat till the cheeses are melted. Season with salt and pepper.



Chunky Braided Winter Headband

Last year I posted a pattern for a braided winter headband. After making one for myself, my mom and my little sister I soon realized it was the most popular knitted item I've ever created. The problem is, I'm really lazy and unless I'm determined, I really hate making these headbands. It's simple, any beginner knitter could do it, but it takes too long and I lose interest.

I decided to try the pattern on larger needles with thicker yarn. Turns out I actually prefer the pattern this way. It goes by much more quickly and the texture stands out more strongly.

I'm still pretty lazy and can't get myself to produce enough to sell, but I thought I might as well post my pattern so I don't forget how I made it (hence the whole reason I started this blog in the first place).

If these instructions aren't clear enough, you can always look at my other pattern for a slightly different explanation.

2 skeins of worsted weight yarn (you'll be knitting them together) OR one skein of bulky yarn
size 10 double point needles
darning needle
three attractive buttons
needle and thread
straight pins

Using two double point needles, cast on 24 stitches. Knit in seed stich (also called moss stitch) till piece measures 12 inches. I always slip the first stitch of each row to keep the edge even.

*Next row: seed stitch the first 8 stitches onto an empty double pointed needle. Work back and forth on this "leg" for 12 inches.
Next row: k2tog, seed st. 3 stitches, k2tog
Next row: K2tog, k2tog
Bind off next row*

Repeat * for each of the two remaining "legs" of the headband.

Weave in the first tail of yarn.

Braid the three "legs" of the headband till there's about 2 inches left at the ends. Pin the three ends to the beginning of the piece, creating the headband shape. Make sure the ends overlap the beginning of the piece so there's a good amount of space for the size of your buttons.

Pin the braid in place. With the darning needle, secure each end in place using the tails from the "legs."
Turn headband inside out. With needle and thread, whipstitch parts of the braid so the "legs" are secure and don't move or twist apart when stretched.

Sew on your buttons.


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