Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving: Vegetables

I don't do yams or sweet potatoes. Not even with marshmallows.

There, I said it.

Here are some other Vegetable options (brought to you by the Lion House cookbook).

Harvest Vegetable Bake
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 C celery, chopped
  • 1/3 C green pepper, chopped
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 C grated Swiss cheese
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • paprika
  1. Preheat ove to 350 degrees (f).
  2. Break cauliflower into flowerets and cook in small amount of salted water until tender.
  3. Drain and pour into a shallow baking dish.
  4. In a small saucepan, saute celery, onion, and green pepper in melted butter until crisp-tender.
  5. Pour over cauliflower.
  6. In the same pan, combine cornstarch and cold milk and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.
  7. Stir in Swiss cheese and salt.
  8. Pour sauce over vegetables.
  9. Top with sliced tomato and sprinkle with paprika.
  10. Bake 20 minutes.
Broccoli Valhalla
  • 2 pounds fresh broccoli
  • 3 large oranges, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 T butter
  1. Wash broccoli and cut into 2-inch pieces.
  2. Cook in a small amount of salted water until crisp-tender.
  3. Drain off water and set broccoli aside.
  4. Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and saute oranges for a minute or two.
  5. Add broccoli and heat to blend flavors.
Carrots Lyonnaise
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/2 C boiling water
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 T flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • dash pepper
  • pinch sugar
  • 3/4 C water
  1. Dissolve bouillon cube in boiling water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add carrots; return to boiling.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 7-10 minutes, until crisp-tender.
  4. While carrots are cooking, melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add sliced onions and saute until translucent.
  6. Add flour, salt, pepper, sugar, and 3/4 C water.
  7. Stir until thickened.
  8. Stir in cooked carrots and teh cooking water.
  9. Stir until all ingredients are blended.
  10. Serve hot.
Here is a picture of julienned carrots (just so you know what that fancy term really means):

      Sunday, November 22, 2009

      Thanksgiving: Stuffing

      More conflicted feelings.
      Stove Top or the good stuff?
      Maybe a hybrid?

      Here is my "good stuff" recipe:

      Herb and Butter Stuffing
      • One loaf of rustic white or Italian bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2" cubes
      • 3 celery stalks, chopped
      • 2 medium onions, chopped
      • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (that's 3/4 C)
      • 2 t minced garlic
      • 1 C chicken broth
      • 1/2 t poultry seasoning
      • 1/2-1 t crushed sage
      • 1/2 t thyme
      • 1/2 t rosemary
      1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (f)
      2. Coat large cookie sheet with butter, then arrange your bread cubes on cookie sheet so that there is just one layer of bread throughout.
      3. Place bread in the oven and bake until slightly browned; remove from oven and turn cubes; brown the other side.
      4. Place bread cubes in a casserole dish.
      5. In a deep skillet melt 1/2 cube (1/4 C) of butter then saute onions, garlic, and celery until the onions begin to be transparent.
      6. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up the bits of onion and celery that may have stuck to the skillet.
      7. Add the remaining butter (1 stick or 1/2 C) and the herbs.
      8. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes; cover with tin foil; and refrigerate at least 2 hours and as much as over night.
      9. Remove from fridge.
      10. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (f).
      11. Bake stuffing with foil on for 25 minutes.
      12. Remove foil and bake until browned (approximately 15 more minutes).

      Ways to fancy-up the stove-top kind:
      • Add cranberries (fresh or craisons)
      • Add almond slivers
      • Add celery and onions (sauteed in some butter)
      • Bake it after you've cooked it so that it crisps up a bit

      Thanksgiving: Rolls

      I'm conflicted about rolls. Which is weird. I've ALWAYS been a homemade roll kinda gal. This year, though, I'm actually considering buying rolls. Strange, I know. I'll probably end up making rolls ... probably.

      Here are two great roll recipes:

      One-hour Rolls
      • 5 t Yeast
      • 1/4 C warm water
      • 1 1/2 C buttermilk (I think this is the real key)
      • 1/4 C sugar
      • 1/2 C oil
      • 1 t salt
      • 4 1/2 C flour (I did 2 1/2 of wheat and 2 C white)
      • 1/2 t baking soda
      1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl.
      2. In mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, sugar, oil, and salt, then mix.
      3. Add the yeast mixture once it has become frothy, then mix well.
      4. Add flour and baking soda.
      5. Knead (with machine or by hand) until the dough is smooth (2-5 minutes).
      6. Let stand for 10 minutes.
      7. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
      8. Cut into triangles and roll from wide side to thin (forming a crescent).
      9. Place on cookie sheet (with nonstick spray on it).
      10. Let rise for 30 minutes.
      11. Bake in preheated 425f oven for 10 minutes.
      These have a fabulous texture. I use honey instead of sugar and that works great. I also reduce the oil slightly.

      Mom's Rolls

      In a small bowl combine and then brew until very frothy (usually about 5 minutes):
      • 1/4 C warm water
      • 2 T yeast
      • 1 t sugar

      In a large bowl stir/dissolve:
      • 1/2 C oil
      • 1/2 C sugar
      • 3/4 C hot water

      Add and stir well:
      • 2 t salt
      • 3 eggs
      • yeast mixture

      Mix in (it should still be somewhat sticky and a little lumpy):
      • 4 1/2 C sifted flour

      Raise for one hour.

      1. Punch down and on a floured surface roll out until about 1/3 inch thick rectangle. 
      2. Brush softened butter on the dough. 
      3. Cut into triangles and roll from the fat side to the point. 
      4. Place rolls on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray (like Pam).
      5. Raise for an additional hour.
      6. Bake at 400 f for 9-12 minutes.

      total project time: 2.5 - 3 hours

      Thanksgiving: Beverage

      I think we'll probably just have water.

      But, here are some recipes for other (more fun) options:

      • 4 C sugar
      • 6 C water
      • 1 (46 oz) can of pineapple juice
      • 2 (12 oz) cans frozen orange juice
      • 1 (12 oz) can frozen lemonade
      • 5 bananas - mashed
      • 6 liters lemon/lime soda (like Sprite)
      1. Measure sugar and water into saucepan.
      2. Bring to a boil
      3. Remove from heat; chill.
      4. Mix with pineapple juice, orange juice, lemon juice and bananas.
      5. Freeze.
      6. Pour soda over it and serve.
      Holiday Cranberry Drink
      • 1 Gallon Cranberry Cocktail
      • 2 T grated orange peel
      • 6 cinnamon sticks
      • 12 whole cloves (placed in a cloth and tied off)
      • 4 C orange juice
      1. Place all ingredients into a big pot or crockpot.
      2. Heat.
      3. Serve.
      4. (You can float fresh cranberries on top)

      Thanksgiving: Fruit

      Cranapple Salad
      • 2 C chopped Cranberries (the easiest way to chop them is to put them in a food processor while they are still frozen)
      • 2 C shredded Granny Smith Apples (peel, core, and then shred)
      • 1/3 C Sugar
      • 2 C Mini Marshmallows
      • 1 C Heavy Whipping Cream
      1. Combine cranberries, apples, sugar and marshmallows and chill for about an hour.
      2. Whip the cream  (don't add sugar) then fold it into the fruit mixture.
      3. Serve chilled.
      4. Optional: add walnut pieces, you can also leave the marshmallows out.

      This makes a really pretty pink salad that is just so festive in flavor and presentation!

      Baked Peaches with Ginger Glaze
      • 2 Cans Peaches (halves work best but slices are fine too)
      • 3 T brown sugar
      • 1/3 C peach juice (taken from draining canned peaches)
      • 1 T minced, peeled fresh ginger (or 1/8 t ginger powder)
      • 1/4 C minced, purple onion
      • 2 t grated orange rind
      • 2 T orange juice (squeezed from orange)
      1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (f).
      2. Spray shallow casserole pan with nonstick spray.
      3. Drain peaches, reserving 1/3 C of the juice.
      4. Arrange peaches in the casserole pan.
      5. In a separate small bowl combine brown sugar, peach juice, ginger, onion, orange rind, and orange juice.
      6. Pour juice mixture over the peaches.
      7. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
      8. (If you want a crispy top, you can combine 1/4 C quick oats, 1/4 C brown sugar, 1 T softened butter, and 2 T flour and crumble over the top of the peaches)
      Lime Jello Stuff
      (recipe by my MIL)
      • 1 C crushed pineapple, heated
      • 1 large pkg lime gelatin
      • 1 C cream (or Cool Whip)
      • 1 C miniature marshmallows
      • 1 C cottage cheese
      • 1/2 C chopped pecans
      1. Dissolve gelatin in heated pineapple.
      2. Cool to room temperature.
      3. In a separate bowl, add marshmallows, cottage cheese, and pecans to whipped cream.
      4. Fold cream mixture into gelatin mixture
      5. Salad may be served at once or molded for later use.

      Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Desserts

      I realize that I didn't post a recipe for pumpkin pie. See, here's the thing, I'm just not that big a fan. I'm sure you can find all kinds of good pumpkin pie recipes though. If you've got a great one, feel free to post a link or type it into a comment.

      Although I don't really like pumpkin pies, I LOVE pumpkin rolls and pumpkin cookies. Here are some great recipes.

      Pumpkin Rolls
      • 3 eggs
      • 1 C sugar
      • 2/3 C pumpkin pie filling
      • 1 t lemon juice
      • 3/4 C flour
      • 1 t baking powder
      • 1/4 t salt
      • 2 t cinnamon
      • 1 t ginger
      • 1/2 t nutmeg
      1. Mix (using a Kitchen Aid or hand mixer): eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and lemon juice.
      2. Add: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg (you can leave out the ginger and nutmeg if you, as Phil, don't like those flavors). Mix well.
      3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (f).
      4. Grease a 10x14 inch pan and then line it with waxed paper.
      5. Pour batter into pan.
      6. Bake for 15 minutes.
      7. Immediately turn cake onto a damp cotton towel (not terry cloth).
      8. Peel the waxed paper off the cake.
      9. Roll the cake (and damp towel) so that you have the length (so your roll will be 14 inches long).
      10. Cool in the fridge.
      11. When the cake is completely cooled, remove from fridge and unroll (your towel will be yucky but it washes out ok).
      12. Spread with filling and roll back up (without the towel).
      13. Wrap in waxed paper and then foil.
      14. Freeze.
      15. Allow to thaw approximately 30 minutes prior to serving.
      16. When thawed about 15 minutes, slice and serve (continue to thaw another 15 minutes after slicing).
      Mix all ingredients until creamy:
      • 1 (8 oz) pkg of cream cheese - softened
      • 1/2 C butter
      • 1 C powdered sugar
      • 1/2 t vanilla

        Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies (from
        • 1 C Pumpkin pie filling
        • 3/4 C sugar
        • 1/2 C oil
        • 1 egg
        • 2 C flour
        • 2 t baking powder
        • 1 t cinnamon
        • 1/2 t salt
        • 1 t baking soda
        • 1 t milk
        • 1 c chocolate chips
        • 1 t vanilla
        • nuts (optional)
        1. Dissolve baking soda in milk; set aside.
        2. In large bowl add pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg; stir.
        3. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda mixture. Mix well.
        4. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla.
        5. Spoon onto cookie sheet.
        6. Bake at 375 degrees (f) for 10-12 minutes (or until done).

        Thanksgiving: Pies

        What is Thanksgiving without pies?

        a let down, that's what!

        Here are some tried and true recipes:

        Cranberry Cheesecake
        • 1 (8 oz) pkg of cream cheese (softened)
        • 1 can of sweet and condensed milk
        • 2 T lemon juice
        • 1 egg
        • 2 graham cracker crust (purchased or handmade)
        • 1 (8 oz) can of whole berry cranberry sauce
        • 1 T brown sugar
        • 3 T cornstarch
        • 1/3 C flour
        • 3/4 C walnuts or pecans (optional)
        • 2 T brown sugar (more)
        • 1/2 cube butter - softened
        1. In your mixer combine 8 oz of softened cream cheese, 1 can of sweet and condensed milk, 2 T lemon juice, and 1 egg. 
        2. Pour into a graham cracker crust. 
        3. In a separate bowl mix 8 oz whole berry cranberry sauce, 1 T brown sugar, and 3 T cornstarch and then drop globs into the cheese mixture. 
        4. In another bowl mix 1/3 C flour, 3/4 C walnuts (optional), 2 T brown sugar, and 1/2 cube of softened (not melted) butter and crumble on the top. 
        5. Bake at 375 f for 40-45 minutes (makes two small pies).

        French Silk Chocolate Pie 
        • 3 oz of unsweetened chocolate
        • 1 C butter
        • 1 C sugar
        • 1 t vanilla
        • 4 eggs
        • Baked pie crust (you can use a traditional crust of a graham cracker crust or even an oreo crust)
        1. In a small saucepan, melt 3 oz of unsweetened chocolate and then cool. 
        2. Cream 1 C butter and 1 C sugar in your mixer. 
        3. Add the cooled chocolate and 1 t vanilla. 
        4. Add 2 eggs and beat (or whip) on high speed for 5 minutes. 
        5. Add 2 more eggs and beat for 5 more minutes. 
        6. Pour into a pie shell. Refrigerate. Top with whipped cream.

        Cherry Pie
        (recipe taken from the back of Oregon Red Tart Cherries label)
        (this is Phil's favorite - and Corrie's too!)
        • 1/2 - 3/4 C sugar (depending on your taste)
        • 1 T cornstarch
        • 2 (14.5 oz) cans Oregon Red Tart Cherries (in water)
        • 1/4 t almond extract (optional)
        • 1 T butter
        • Pie crusts (top and bottom - not cooked yet)
        1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (f).
        2. Drain the cherries and reserve the juice from only one can.
        3. In a saucepan, stir the cherry juice into the combined mixture of the cornstarch and sugar.
        4. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.
        5. Remove from heat.
        6. Gently stir in cherries and almond extract.
        7. Pour filling into pastry lined pie pan.
        8. Dot with butter or margarine.
        9. Place pastry over the top, vent (create a hole), and seal (press the top and bottom pastries together). You can also do a lattice. See instructions here.
        10. Bake 30-40 minutes or until crust browns and filling begins to bubble.
        11. If necessary, cover edges with aluminum foil during last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.
        12. Cool pie several hours to allow filling to thicken before slicing.

        Here are a couple of different crust recipes. For some reason my mom's doesn't work here 'bama (altitude? humidity? not sure why). Normally it is flaky and delicious though! I used the other one last year and it was pretty easy to handle and was quite tasty.

        Mom's Pie Crust
        (same as the one on the cherry label)

        • 2 C flour
        • 2/3 C shortening
        • 1 t salt
        • 1/4 C ice water
        1. Mix flour, shortening, and salt together until small pieces form the size of peas.
        2. Add water and mix just to moisten.
        3. Roll out and put into pie pan.
        4. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes (if filling after) or according to recipe if baking with the filling in it.
        MIL's Pie Crust
        (same as our RS president here in 'bama)
        • 4 cups all purpose flour
        • 1 Tbsp sugar
        • 2 tsp salt
        • 1 3/4 cups of shortening (I use 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening) cold!
        • 1 Tbsp vinegar
        • 1 egg
        • 1/2 cup cold water  (you may need a little more)
        1. Mix vinegar, egg, and water well and put in freezer for a few minutes to get it really cold.
        2. In a food processor (you can do this by hand too) pulse the flour, sugar, salt, and shortening
        3. Add water mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a fork or pulse a few times in the processor until it forms a ball.
        4. This makes 4 crusts.  
        5. Separate it into fourths and put into plastic freezer bags.  Store in fridge until ready to use (it will also freeze well).
        6. Bake according to pie recipe.
        Hints for rolling out pie crust
        • Cold is good. Make sure your crust (and the liquid used to make the crust are cold).
        • Put a piece of wax paper on your surface, then the dough, then another piece of wax paper. This prevents sticking, you can just peel off the wax paper and put the crust into your pan.
        • Don't use too much flour, too much will make your crust stiff and tough. I once saw someone (maybe Martha) use sugar to prevent sticking. An interesting idea but I like the wax paper solution better.
        • Don't give up if it doesn't work out the first time. Keep working at it and make notes about what worked and what didn't. 
        • Remember the two basics: keep it cold and don't handle it too much.

        Thanksgiving: Hors d'oeuvres

        At our house we like to have a brunch for breakfast and then put out some yummy things to munch on until our mid-afternoon meal. We don't have television reception so there won't be parade or football watching. Instead, we plan on having the girls (ages 2 and 3) do some craft projects, reading some Thanksgiving books we checked out from the library, and just enjoying our friends.

        Here are some recipes for our munchies (aka: hors d'oeuvres)

        Spiced Nuts:
        (America’s Best Recipes)

        • 1 egg white
        • 1 tbs water
        • 3 cups pecan halves, or almonds
        • ½ cup sugar
        • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
        • ½ tsp salt
        • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
        • ½ tsp ground cloves
        1. Beat egg white (at room temperature) and water at high speed of an electric mixer until foamy.  
        2. Add pecans, stirring to coat.  
        3. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and sprinkle over nuts; stir well.  
        4. Spread nuts in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet.  
        5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring twice.  
        6. Let cool.  Yield:  about 3 cups.
         Pineapple Cheese Ball
        • 2 (8 oz) pkgs of Cream Cheese - softened
        • 1 can of crushed Pineapple - well drained
        • 1/3 C of Red Onion - finely chopped
        • 1/3 C of Green Bell Pepper - finely chopped
        • 1/4 t Celery Salt
        • 1/4 t Seasoned Salt
        • 1/4 t Table Salt
        1. Blend all ingredients together.
        2. Chill 15 minutes.
        3. Form into a ball.
        4. (optional) Garnish (roll the ball into one of the garnishing suggestions to cover).
          1. Crushed Nuts
          2. Finely Chopped Parsley
          3. Ritz Cracker crumbs
          4. Other ideas????
        5. Chill until 10 minutes before serving.
        6. Serve with a variety of crackers.
        Cheesy Garlic Cheese Ball
        • 2 (8 oz) pkgs of Cream Cheese - softened
        • 1 - 2 teaspoons of minced garlic (depending on your taste)
        • 1/2 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning (or 1/4 t oregano, 1/4 t basil)
        • 1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese (finely grated)
        • 1/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese (finely grated)
        • 1/2 teaspoon of Table Salt
        1. Blend all ingredients together.
        2. Chill 15 minutes.
        3. Form into a ball.
        4. (optional) Garnish (roll the ball into one of the garnishing suggestions to cover).
          1. Crushed Nuts
          2. Finely Chopped Parsley
          3. Ritz Cracker crumbs
          4. Other ideas????
        5. Chill until 10 minutes before serving.
        6. Serve with a variety of crackers.

        Thanksgiving: the Bird

        Step 1 - Buying the Turkey
        • Determine how many your turkey needs to feed.
        • Plan on 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey (this includes bones etc) per guest (slightly less for small eaters, more for big eaters). This will still allow you a few leftovers.
        • Buy your bird. 
          • If it is frozen you will need to thaw it out in the fridge: a day for every 5 pounds or in an ice water bath (fill your clean tub or a large container with ice water and submerge your bird - it should be in a bag for extra sanitation): 30 minutes per pound.
          • If it is fresh, you will need to store it in your fridge until it is time to cook it. If you plan to buy it the day before (to keep your fridge available longer) you might want to reserve one in advance.
        Step 2 - Preparing the Turkey
        • If you want to brine your turkey see here and here for some helpful hints and recipes.
        • Buy some cheesecloth.
        • Prepare your basting liquid. Here is my recipe:
          • Melt 1 cube of butter.
          • Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth.
          • Add 1/2 cup of ginger ale.
          • Add 1-2 teaspoons of crushed sage.
          • Add 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary.
        • Preheat oven to 425 with top rack removed and remaining rack at lowest setting.
        • Place your turkey breast side up. Turn the wings under. Tie the legs together (even if you don't stuff the cavity because it will keep its shape better with the legs tied together).
        • Fold your cheesecloth so that it is the right size to cover your turkey. Submerge it in your cooled (but not cold) basting liquid.
        • Place the cheesecloth over your turkey.
        • Baste turkey with more of the liquid.
        Step 3 - Roasting the Turkey 
        • Put turkey in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
        • Turn oven down to 350 and continue to roast. Brush basting liquid on cheesecloth and turkey every 30 minutes. You can cover the turkey with a piece of foil if it is browning too quickly.
        • Here is a chart so you'll know how long to roast (these are estimates - the key is to roast until the turkey is 180 degrees {f} at the thickest part):
        Weight of Bird
        Roasting Time
        Roasting Time
        10-18 lbs
        3-3.5 hours
        3.75-4.5 hours
        15-22 lbs
        3.5-4 hours
        4.5-5 hours
        22-24 lbs
        4-4.5 hours
        5-5.5 hours
        24-29 lbs
        4.5-5 hours
        5.5-6.25 hours

        Step 4 - Carving your Turkey
        • Remove your turkey and allow it to sit at least 30 minutes before attempting to carve it.
        • Use the instructions here for carving your turkey.

        Friday, November 20, 2009

        In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

        In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

        You should click on the link above and watch a great video!

        Wednesday, November 18, 2009

        Baked Apple French Toast


        Day 1
        1 (1 pound) loaf French bread*, cut diagonally in 1 inch slices
        8 eggs
        2 cups milk
        1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
        2 teaspoons vanilla extract
        1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

        *Homemade bread works great. Use your small loaf pans for a perfect size.

        • Day 2
        • 2 apples cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped (optional)
        • 3/4 cup butter (melted)
        • 1 1/3 cups brown sugar

        1. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
        2. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place your chopped apple pieces on top of the bread (which will have soaked up all that yummy egg and milk) In a small bowl, combine butter, and brown sugar. Pour over bread and egg mixture.
        3. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

        This is a yummy breakfast or brunch. Try it for a Christmas brunch. We will be having this Thanksgiving morning. YUM!

        Tuesday, November 17, 2009

        Cabbage and Apples

        I found this "heart-healthy" recipe in a book by Zorba Paster (the doctor with a show on NPR). It is very tasty and might even be added to our Thanksgiving menu. This serves 4 and takes about 40 minutes (10 minutes prep and 30 minutes of simmering).

        • 2 T Olive Oil
        • 1 medium Onion, coarsely chopped
        • 2 Granny Smith apples, coarsely chopped
        • 1T Flour
        • 1 C Water
        • 1/2 C Red wine vinegar
        • 2 T Sugar
        • 1 medium Green cabbage, shredded
        • 1 Bay leaf
        1. Heat oil in a large skillet.
        2. Add onion and apples, and toss to coat.
        3. Stir over medium heat until the onion is limp
        4. Sprinkle on flour and continue stirring until mixture "foams." (I didn't ever really get a "foam."
        5. Pour in water and vinegar.
        6. Bring to a boil.
        7. Stir in sugar.
        8. Add cabbage, stirring to coat.
        9. Drop in bay leaf.
        10. Reduce heat and cover.
        11. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until cabbage is crisp-tender.
        12. Remove bay leaf
        13. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

        Friday, October 30, 2009

        Specialty Flours Made at Home

        Have you ever had a recipe that called for self rising flour but you didn't have any?

        It is really easy to make your own!

        For every cup of all purpose flour sift in 1 1/2 t Baking Powder and 1/2 t salt.

        Ok, that was easy. What about cake flour?

        Take a  1 cup measuring cup and put in 2 T of cornstarch then fill the rest with all purpose flour. Sift multiple times (until your flour is light and fluffy - some say as many as 12 times!).

        Now you never have to pass up a yummy recipe because you don't have the right kind of flour!

        Voila! (which, by the way is the word you mean when you say "wala" what is up with that? I hate reading "wala"  it drives me nuts, but I digress...)

        Thursday, October 29, 2009

        Grocery Shopping

        Here is my favorite shopping assistant:
        (isn't she cute?)

        When I was a single working gal I didn't give much thought to shopping. It was an afterthought at best. If I needed something, I went to the store and bought it. I even kind of sneered at people who made grocery shopping an art form. Silly them, it really isn't that big-a-deal, I thought.

        Now I am surprised at how much of my time and energy (and money!) goes toward grocery shopping.

        I'm looking for your best tips. Where do you shop? Do you have any "rules" that you follow (e.g. my sister refuses to buy cereal for more than $2 a box)? How often do you shop? Are you organized?

        I'm looking forward to your helpful hints! Thanks!

        Tuesday, October 20, 2009

        Fabric Pumpkins

        I made these cute pumpkins out of old shirts that Phil was giving to the thrift store (sorry Center of Hope, I snagged them first). I used the collar of the green shirt to make the leaves because that way they are stiff and have facing in them and fabric on both sides.

        I cut circles out of the other shirts (ranging from about 14" to 8"). Then I basically made a large yo-yo (see tutorial here) and then instead of making it flat, I stuffed it with fiberfill. I used my glue gun to attach the leaf and then I stuck a stick (we have plenty of those around here) in the top (right into the fiberfill) for the stem.

        I think they turned out really cute! I LOVE that I didn't have to buy a single item to make these cute decorations.

        Saturday, October 10, 2009

        Broccoli Mac-n-Cheese

        This is an easy recipe for those days when you maybe just don't feel inspired but aren't ready to resort to prepared or fast food.

        1. Boil some macaroni and frozen (or fresh) broccoli florets together. 
        2. When the pasta is done, drain.
        3. While still hot, add 1/2 block of cream cheese and 1 C grated cheddar cheese. Mix well until it is melted and creamy.
        4. Add crumbled bacon bits.
        5. Serve.

        Friday, October 9, 2009

        Chicken Kurma with Raisins

        This is so good and really pretty easy and quick. Try it this weekend, you'll be glad that you did!

        • 1/4 C chicken broth
        • 1/3 C half and half (or 2% milk if you don't want it so rich)
        • 1/2 C coconut milk
        • 1 1/2 T curry powder
        • 1/2 C cold butter, cut into pieces
        • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thawed)
        • 2 tablespoons Garam Masala*
        • 1/2 C raisins
        • salt and pepper to taste
        1. In a medium sauce pan add chicken broth, half/half, and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer (steaming).
        2. Add curry powder and stir until smooth.
        3. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat to medium and cook (while stirring frequently) for approximately 15 minutes (liquid will reduce and thicken).
        4. Turn heat down to low and add cold butter (cut into small pieces). Stir and incorporate butter. Do not allow the liquid to boil or the butter will separate.
        5. Season with salt and pepper and set aside, keeping warm.
        6. Shake the Garam Masala onto the thawed chicken breasts and then grill or sear as desired.
        7. Cut cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces.
        8. Add the chicken and raisins to the Kurma sauce.
        Serve over rice. For added color and flavor,  put some frozen peas into the cooked rice just before serving.

        *Garam Masala is a combination of spices. You should be able to find it at your local grocery store by the other blended spices. Or, you can make your own blend, a recipe can be found here.

        Wednesday, September 30, 2009

        Mexican Chicken

        Throw the following into your crockpot:

        • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
        • 1 can stewed tomatoes (include the juices)
        • 1/2 C diced bell peppers (or a hotter pepper if you like HOT)
        • 1/2 packet of taco seasoning
        • 1/2 C diced onion (optional)
        Let that cook on high (if chicken is frozen) or low (if chicken is thawed) for 4 hours.

        Shred the chicken while still in the crockpot. Now throw in:
        • 1 can of drained black beans
        • 3/4 C of corn (canned or frozen)
        Let that cook for one more hour on low.

        Now you have some great shredded chicken that can be used for tacos, burritos, tostadas, or stuffed quesadilla (which is what we used it for). You can top it with cilantro, fresh tomatoes, etc.


        Friday, September 18, 2009

        Friday, September 11, 2009

        Oh yum ice cream (really yogurt)

        For his birthday*, Phil bought be an ice cream maker (the kind that doesn't require ice or salt - LOVE IT!)

        I've been having fun creating ice cream and came up with this recipe that is absolutely yummy! I love it, everyone who has tasted it loves it, and it is easy as in E.A.S.Y.!

        • 2 C Blueberry** Yogurt (I use my Winn Dixie brand but Dannon or Yoplait or whatever will be just fine)
        • 1 C Heavy Cream (not whipped, just straight from the carton)
        • 1/2 C Sugar
        1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
        2. Mix well.
        3. Pour into your ice cream maker.

        The flavor is awesome, the texture is so creamy. If you sprinkle it with graham crumbs it totally tastes like blueberry cheesecake.

        ** You can use any flavor: raspberry is good, strawberry is fine, whatever.

        *For our birthdays we buy gifts for each other (we get gifts too). It is kind of a fun tradition.

        Friday, September 4, 2009

        Chicken Paprika

        5-6 chicken breasts
        3 T butter
        1/2 C onion (sliced or chopped)
        1 1/2 t salt
        black pepper
        2 bay leaves
        1 C sour cream

        1. Saute onion slices in butter on medium heat.
        2. Add chicken breasts; brown on each side.
        3. Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika on top of chicken.
        4. Lower heat, add 1/2 C water and bay leaves.
        5. Place lid on pan and simmer for 45 minutes.
        6. Remove lid; add sour cream; cook sauce down to thicken (approximately 15 minutes).
        Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta.

        Friday, August 28, 2009

        Sweet Cornbread Muffins

        1 C flour
        1 C cornmeal
        1/3 C sugar
        1/3 C honey
        1 t salt
        3 1/2 t baking powder
        1 egg
        1/2 C milk
        1/2 C buttermilk
        2 T vegetable oil

        1. Preheat oven to 380.
        2. Put liners into 12 cupcake slots (or spray the slots with nonstick spray).
        3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, slat, and baking powder.
        4. Add the egg, milk, oil, and honey then stir until well mixed.
        5. Pour batter into cupcake slots.
        6. Bake for 15 minutes.

        Monday, August 24, 2009

        My Love Affair Continues

        I love having frozen spinach!

        Seriously, you may remember that I bought a bunch of fresh spinach and wondered about whether I could freeze it and then I decided to just freeze it fresh. I learned that you shouldn't thaw it out before using it but steam it or cook with it straight from the freezer.

        I have been making this delicious spinach pasta using the frozen spinach ever since. It works great.

        Saturday I decided to make spinach-chicken-alfredo calzones. I took two bags of my fresh/frozen spinach and while still frozen and in the bag I broke up the pieces of spinach (so much easier than cutting it) and then poured it right into the sauce. Oh, so yummy! Fresh taste, convenient, nutritious, economical ... what could be better?

        Yeah, I'm in love with fresh/frozen spinach!

        Friday, August 21, 2009

        Food Friday: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Orange Salsa

        • 1 T olive oil
        • 1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed
        • 1/2 t salt
        • 1/2 t ground black pepper
        • 1 C coarsely chopped orange sections (about 2 oranges) or you could use a can of mandarin oranges
        • 1/2 C diced red onion
        • 1/4 C diced green bell pepper
        • 1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
        • 2 T fresh lime juice
        • 1 t minced garlic
        1. Preheat oven to 450.
        2. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
        3. Sprinkle pork evenly with 1/4 t salt and 1/4 t black pepper.
        4. Add pork to pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side.
        5. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 17 minutes*.
        6. Let stand 5 minutes then cut across the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices.
        7. Combine 1/4 t salt, 1/4 t black pepper, oranges and remaining ingredients.
        8. Serve the salsa over the pork.
        *You can cook the pork however you like it: grill it, slow cook it in a crockpot, or as directed here.

        Friday, August 14, 2009

        Matching Purses

        For this project I used a pair of Eden's old pants. I used one leg (that had some cute embellishments on it) to make a purse for her Baby-doll. I used the top part of the pants to make a purse with pockets for Eden. Voila! Matching Purses!

        We've been on vacation for a while and I really missed my sewing machines. There is much "catching up" to do at home so I won't be taking on any big projects for a while but it just felt really good to do a little sewing. Eden loves these bags and thinks it is so fun to have matching purses with her Baby-doll.

        It is SO good to be home!

        Food Friday: Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

        2 T minced cilantro (fresh is best)
        2 1/2 T lime juice
        1 1/2 T olive oil
        4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
        1/4 t salt
        1 C chopped tomato
        2 T chopped onion
        2 t lime juice (more)
        1/4 t salt (more)
        1/8 t ground black pepper
        1 avocado, peeled and finely chopped

        1. Combine cilantro, 2 1/2 T lime juice and olive oil in a gallon sized Ziploc and knead to mix the ingredients together.
        2. Add the chicken breast and let marinade for about 5 minutes.
        3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and then discard the marinade.
        4. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 t salt.
        5. Cook the chicken (on your grill or in a pan or in the oven - however you like it best).
        6. Prepare the salsa by combining tomato, onion, 2 t lime juice, 1/4 t salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl.
        7. Add the avocado and stir gently.
        8. Serve the salsa over the chicken and with rice as a side.

        Friday, August 7, 2009

        Food Friday: Greek Chicken with Capers and Feta

        Got some capers lying around? Try this recipe!
        Tired of the same old food? Try this recipe!
        Don't want to heat up the house with your oven? Try this recipe!

        Have I convinced you?

        here we go then...

        • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
        • 2 T flour
        • 1 t dried oregano
        • 1 T olive oil
        • 1 C thinly sliced onion
        • 3 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 t of the bottled kind - you know I love that stuff!)
        • 1 1/2 C chicken broth (use fat free to make this a low fat recipe)
        • 1/3 C golden raisins
        • 2 T lemon juice
        • 2 T capers (because they were just sitting around anyway)
        • 1/4 C crumbled feta cheese
        • 4 thin lemon slices
        1. Flatten each chicken breast so it is about 1/4 inch thick.
        2. Combine flour and oregano in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and mix.
        3. Place the chicken breast in the bag and make sure each one is well-coated (do it one at a time).
        4. Heat oil in a large skillet (medium-high heat).
        5. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes on each side; remove from pan.
        6. Add onion and garlic to the pan and saute 2 minutes.
        7. Stir in broth, raisins, and lemon juice; cook 3 minutes.
        8. Add the chicken back in and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
        9. Remove chicken from the pan but keep it warm.
        10. Add capers and feta cheese to the pan, stir with a whisk (plastic coated so you don't scratch your pan) until you have a creamy sauce.
        11. Top each chicken breast with a generous amount of sauce and 1 lemon slice.

        Friday, July 31, 2009

        Food Friday - Sauteed Apple-Onion Chicken

        It is still too hot to turn on the oven, turn on the stove instead. (And if you have one of those outdoor grills with a burner, use that and keep the heat outside!)

        • 2 T flour
        • 1/4 t salt
        • 1/4 t black pepper
        • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
        • 2 t olive oil
        • 3 C sliced onion (not chopped, you want long slices of onion)
        • 2 1/2 C peeled and sliced apples (Granny Smith work well)
        • 1 t Rosemary (dried)
        • 1 C Apple Cider
        1. Place flour, salt, and pepper in a gallon Ziploc and shake (after you've closed it of course!).
        2. Add chicken, seal, shake until it is coated.
        3. heat 1 t oil in a large nonstick skillet (medium heat).
        4. Add chicken and saute until browned on each side.
        5. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep it warm.
        6. Heat another t of oil in the skillet.
        7. Add onion and saute 5 minutes.
        8. Add apple and rosemary and saute another 5 minutes.
        9. Add the chicken back in and then put the cider in and bring to a boil.
        10. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until the chicken is done.

        Wednesday, July 29, 2009

        So Long, Fairwell ...

        Announcing a change to Tutorial Tuesdays...

        They are no more.

        Instead, I will be posting pictures of various projects. These will just pop up on a regular but random basis. You can look at these and let your own creativity go crazy. If people leave comments requesting a tutorial on any given project, I will try to oblige.

        What do you think?

        Tuesday, July 28, 2009

        Tutorial Tuesday - Easy Lasagna

        Have you been asked to take dinner to someone? Here is a really easy (and yummy) lasagna that you can take without having to time it so it is hot when they want it. It can even be frozen before or after cooking.
        1. In a medium sized bowl (or in my case, in this cottage cheese container), combine 1 lb of cooked and drained hamburger, 1 can of Hunts Tomato Sauce (reserve about 1/3 C for later), and 8 oz of cottage cheese (you can also use ricotta - or a combination of the two). Stir it up until it looks disgusting.
        2. Add your flavor (garlic, Italian spices - which are really just oregano, basil, and thyme).

        3. In your casserole dish (this one is 11x7), spread the 1/3C Hunt's Tomato Sauce to barely cover the bottom of the dish. Then layer uncooked lasagna noodles (they don't have to be the kind that claim to be ok for uncooked assembly - every kind of lasagna I've tried has worked).
        4. Pour your disgusting-looking meat/cheese/sauce over the top of the dry noodles.
        5. Spread Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese (shredded) across the top.
        6. More uncooked noodles.
        7. More meat sauce, then more cheese. Keep layering until you are at the top of your pan or out of ingredients. End with cheese. You can sprinkle parmesan cheese on the top layer if you want.

        8. Cover tightly with tin foil (shiny side down) and write the following instructions on it (with a permanent marker).

        It says:
        Preheat to 350 degrees
        Cook covered for 45 minutes
        Uncover and bake 15 more minutes
        Let stand for 15 minutes

        If you want, you can make one of these and just keep it in your freezer (either cooked or uncooked) for those times you need a meal to deliver to someone or even for yourself. You will need to thaw for 2-4 hours if it has been frozen. Once it is cooked, it can be warmed in the microwave.

        Friday, July 24, 2009

        Food Friday - Basic Granola

        Happy Pioneer Day!

        One of my favorite things to do on Pioneer Day is to go hiking. When you hike, you need granola (and trail mix). I thought it would be fun to share this recipe from the home storage recipes found here.


        • 2 1/2 C sugar
        • 1 1/2 C water
        • 6 T oil
        • 1 1/2 t salt
        • 10 C uncooked rolled oats
        1. In a pan, combine the sugar; water; oil; and salt.
        2. Heat until the sugar is dissolved, but do not boil. This will make a syrup.
        3. Put your oats in a large bowl.
        4. Pour the syrup mixture over the oats and stir until well coated (add a little more rolled oats if you want it more dry).
        5. Spread the oat mixture on cookie sheets about 1/2 inch deep.
        6. Bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes (stir occasionally).
        7. Bake up to 15 minutes longer for crunchier granola.
        8. Makes 11 cups.
        9. Store in airtight containers.
        Bonus: How to assemble the most wonderful trail mix!

        In a large bowl with a tight lid, combine:
        • 2 C of the above granola
        • 1 C of your favorite nut (almonds and walnuts are the best for you)
        • 1 C of mixed nuts (you want to still get the surprise of a Brazil nut or the yumminess of a cashew).
        • 1 1/2 C of raisins
        • 1 1/2 C of yogurt covered dried cranberries
        • 1 bag of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms
        (You can also add pretzels if you want.)

        Put the lid on tight and shake, shake, shake.
        Store in Ziploc bags. You can freeze this for up to a year (probably more).

        Tuesday, July 21, 2009

        Tutorial Tuesday - Personalized Artwork

        I had just painted our master bedroom and bath and wanted some art for the bathroom wall. I decided to make some original art and give it to Phil for Father's Day. Here is what we came up with:
        1. I bought three Artist Canvases (one for me, one for my daughter and one for Phil):
        2. I also bought some basic craft paint in colors that would work well in my bathroom. I bought a combo pack of craft paint brushes.

        3. I put the canvas out for my two-year old daughter and then gave her one paint color and all the brushes and watched her go to town. I let it dry.

        4. I put the canvas (with one dry color of paint already done) out another day and let her have fun again. I let it dry.

        5. Repeat, for the third color. By allowing it to dry I prevented the colors from becoming one yucky mess of gray. You can see the distinct colors. You can do this as many times as you'd like - layering the colors on top of each other until your child has the look they want.
        6. For my "artwork" I wanted something geometric. I used a straight edge to get the basic shapes and used round stenciling brushes for the circles. I then printed out my letter "K" from the computer and cut it out then traced around it right on the canvas. I filled it in with the paint. It certainly isn't perfect but I like it.

        7. Don't forget to "sign" your artwork.
        8. I bought some ribbon to decorate the edges. You can use hot glue or whatever to adhere the ribbon to the canvas edge (I just used double stick tape).
        Voila! (Phil hasn't done his yet so we haven't hung them - but he really liked this Father's day gift from his two artistic proteges).

        Friday, July 17, 2009

        Food Friday: Grilled Asian Chicken and Pineapple

        Don't heat up your house tonight! Cook out on the grill instead.

        • 3 T honey
        • 3 T soy sauce
        • 3 T pineapple juice
        • 2 t fresh lime juice (lemon juice can be substituted)
        • 2 t peeled and grated fresh ginger
        • 2 t vegetable oil
        • 1 1/2 t curry powder
        • 1/4 t salt
        • 3 minced garlic cloves (or 2 t of the bottled kind)
        • 1 lb skinned, boneless chicken breast (cubed)
        • 1 C red bell pepper (cut into chunks about 1 inch squared)
        • 1 1/2 C fresh pineapple (canned can be substituted) cut into cubes
        • 4 C cooked rice
        1. Heat up your grill.
        2. In a large Ziploc, combine the honey, soy sauce, juices, ginger, oil, curry, salt, and garlic.
        3. Knead to mix the ingredients well.
        4. Add chicken and bell pepper pieces.
        5. Knead bag again to make sure the chicken and bell pepper are well coated (don't forget to seal your bag!).
        6. Thread the chicken, bell pepper, and pineapple pieces alternately onto skewers (bamboo or metal will work fine).
        7. Discard the marinade.
        8. Place the skewers on the grill rack and cook 10 minutes (or until chicken is done). Turn occasionally.
        9. Serve with hot rice.

        Tuesday, July 14, 2009

        Tutorial Tuesday - Learning Road

        It is fairly simple to create a game board like this:
        Draw your road:
        Cut it out:
        Glue it to a piece of construction paper in a contrasting color:
        Draw the broken line down the center of the road (you can also draw grass or flowers or something along the side of the road):
        Decide what you want your child to practice (in this case it is vowels) and make little signs and then glue along the road:
        You can laminate to extend the life of your game board or you can slip in a sheet protector. (Hint: to save on laminate and paper you can do another game on the backside.)

        When it is finished you can find some small cars and have your toddler drive and tell you what the signs say or you can say, "drive to the letter E" or whatever you come up with.

        We've done this with shapes and numbers and colors. You could also do it with stickers of different animals or pictures of grandparents (if they live far away and you want your child to learn their names) or whatever your mind comes up with. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

        Friday, July 10, 2009

        Food Friday - Baked Pears (no sugar added)

        • 2 Cans of Pear Halves in light syrup
        • 1/2 C Pear syrup (drained from the pear halves - discard the rest)
        • 1 C Vanilla Yogurt
        • 1 t Corn Starch
        • 1/4 t Cinnamon
        • 2/3 C Your favorite crunchy cereal (Grape Nuts, Honey Bunches of Oats, Corn Flakes, etc.)
        1. Spray a square baking dish with non-stick spray.
        2. Arrange the pear halves along the bottom of the dish.
        3. In a bowl, mix the pear syrup, yogurt, corn starch, and approximately1/4 t cinnamon.
        4. Pour yogurt mixture over the pear halves.
        5. Sprinkle the crunchy cereal over the top of the yogurt/pears.
        6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
        7. Let sit for 15 minutes and serve. (Can be served with ice cream or alone.)

        Tuesday, July 7, 2009

        Tutorial Tuesday - Strap Covers

        Does your child get tired of having the carseat or seatbelt strap rubbing against her soft skin? Mine did so I decided to make a faux fur strap cover.

        Eden LOVES these and thanked me every day for a week. She kept saying, "mommy made it for Eden, thank you mommy." Now if that isn't reason enough to do a VERY LITTLE bit of sewing, I don't know what is.

        Do you want to make one?
        Here we go:

        • Scissors
        • Measuring Tape
        • Faux Fur (1/8 to 1/4 yard)
        • Thread
        • Sewing Machine
        • Velcro Strip
        1. Measure the width of your strap to be covered multiplied by two then add the width of your velcro plus .25 inch. (So, if your strap is 2.5 inches and your velcro is .75 inch you would have 5.75 inch plus .25 inch brings your total to 6 inches).

        2. Measure the length you want your covers to be (I recommend at least 3 inches)

        3. Cut 2 pieces of your fake fur to your measurements. (For the examples above you would cut them 6" x 3".)

        4. Measure and cut two pieces of velcro to fit the length of your strap cover (in our example: 3 inches)
        5. Pin the velcro on to the fur. Make sure one of the velcro strips is on the "right" side and the other strip on the "wrong" side of the fur. Like this:
        6. Sew the velcro into place using a straight stitch on each side of the velcro or a large zig zag down the middle of the velcro.
        7. Remove the pins, put it on the strap and enjoy your child's gratitude.

        Friday, July 3, 2009

        Food Friday - America's Favorite Pork Chops

        Okay, I got this recipe from Cooking Light and I just love how presumptuous the name is. I thought it would be a fitting recipe for this weekend.

        4 top loin pork chops
        3/4 C Italian dressing
        1 t Worcestershire sauce

        • Place all ingredients in Ziploc bag; seal; and palce in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or as long as overnight.
        • Remove chops from bag; discard marinade.
        • Grill over a medium-hot fire, turning once, until just done (about 8-15 mintues)
        Calories 210

        Tuesday, June 30, 2009

        Tutorial Tuesday - Child's Purse

        Eden loves bags and purses and such. I thought this fabric would make a cute one (it is leftover from the diaper changing pad).

        What do you think?


        • Sturdy fabric (I used canvas) 16" x 12"
        • Decorative fabric (I just used this cute lady bug cotton) 12" x 12"
        • Scissors
        • Thread
        • Strong Ribbon (for handles)
        • Measuring tool (ruler or tape or whatever)
        • Pins
        • Velcro or other fastener (optional)
        First of all, cut out your fabric. The black is 16" x 12" and the lady bug fabric is 12" x 12" (in order to make the lady bugs right side up on both sides of the purse I cut two pieces and then stitched them together as seen below - if you have a pattern that doesn't have a right side up you can just cut one piece of fabric):

        Fold each piece in half and iron:
        The crease will be your sewing line:
        Fold both pieces of fabric the other direction and iron again:
        Hem your top fabric (my lady bugs) on both the top and bottom (but not sides).

        Line up your folds so that the larger piece (my black) is underneath right side up and the designer fabric (lady bugs) is on top also right side up. Pin along the creases and then sew:
        I used a zig zag to sew my seams:
        Now, put right sides together (your fabric has become one piece now) and sew the two sides. You just created a bag with front and back pockets.

        Turn the (black) fabric inside and sew around it (creating a hem for the top of your purse).
        Turn the bag inside out and take the bottom points and match the bottom seam with the side seam so it forms a triangle like this:
        Sew a seam approximately 1.5 inches in from the point of the triangle - repeat for the other side. Now your bag has a flat bottom.
        Sew your straps onto the bag (I did a decorative zig zag on my straps to continue the decorative look). To sew the straps, I do a box seam - I sew about 8 stitches then pivot and sew 8 stitches down, pivot, 8 stitches across, pivot, 8 stitches up. It makes a nice secure seam that also looks nice (I used black so it didn't compete with my red thread).
        I chose to sew velcro onto the two sides of my purse so that Eden can fasten it and keep her stuff from falling out. You could do a button or a hook or nothing at all:
        The end.