Friday, August 31, 2012

Cooking - how things are going

For a while now, I've had two dreams - to start a craft business and a bakery business. In my mind, I thought the craft business would be first as its easier, and the bakery would come later, but it seems like the bakery is coming along first.

I send Bill to work with desserts once in a while for him to hand out as the two of us alone have a hard time eating large quanities of desserts before they go bad. The people at work have been asking for a while for me to make them dishes, and I finally got enough requests at once that I relented and began baking for them.

It's not a bakery by any means, but it serves as great practice.

I learned how to make blueberry pie last week. My first attempt was pretty great honestly, I was really happy and it got rave reviews. Bill says the couple who received it still talk about it to others often. Then I got an order for blueberry cobbler - something I've never made or eaten. I sent out my first one with good reviews but I wasn't happy with it enough. I ended up making my own creation this week, a mix of cobbler and crumb pie. I sent it off today and the couple who got it just called Bill at midnight to let him know how much they loved it.

I'm now faced with a few challenges. I have SIX orders for different cobblers I never made and a cheesecake. I also have a future order of 4 cobblers for a baptism.

Because I'm not lisenced, I don't call myself a bakery and I technically "gift" by baked goods instead of selling them. But, I'm still getting my supply cost back and a little extra. It's mainly fun practice and everyone wins. It's not big enough, of course, to be concerned with running into legal problems though, as while it's taking off, it won't take off above $600, where I'd need to report taxes and get a lisence. That I'll save for down the road.

It's exciting, and I'm hoping my baking skills will flourish from this exercise. It's only been two weeks and I've already made my own recipe up and played with it until I was happy. I wish I could grasp cooking as naturally as baking seems to come to me. Hopefully it will down the road!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

COOKING: Slow Cooked Salsa Chicken Wraps

Last night I did this recipe:

For once, I actually followed the recipe instead of just eyeballing it for a few seconds and then doing whatever I wanted. I had to follow this one though, because it was so simplistic. It took a few seconds to combine the ingredients into the crock pot, then turn it on. That was it. I put it on high for 4 hours. Once it was done, I shredded it and added sour cream (I LOVE sour cream, so I added a little more than what the recipe called for.)

While the chicken was good alone, I wanted a little more so on the wrap I added MORE sour cream, and lots of melted cheddar cheese (no one said this recipe was healthy! lol)

Mixed reviews here. Bill liked it, said he'd eat it again, but it wasn't something he raved over and he said it wasn't one of the meals he'd beg me to make again.

I enjoyed it. I thought it tasted a bit like something you'd get at Taco Bell, but fresher. As someone who enjoys Taco Bell, that was a good thing. Bill isn't into Taco Bell, or Mexican food, and he was surprised that it didn't have beans in it, as he swore he tasted them.

As a side note, I used Tostitos salsa. There's a very fresh salsa, something with the word Rose in it, that they sell at Sam's which is just incredible to work with. I think this recipe would be really spiced up with that salsa, but as Tostitos salsa is my favorite dipping salsa, I enjoyed this taste as well.

No pictures to this one - I made four wraps earlier and packed them away/ate them before I took pictures. I went downstairs a few minutes ago to make another one for lunch and to take a picture of, and devoured it before I could. Oops! But, mine looked almost identical to the picture in the link - just with sour cream in it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

COOKING: Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps

Today I tried a new pinterest recipe. I'm trying 1-3 of these every week this month (my entire menu this month is already planned out completely!) and this is my first.

It came out quite well. Instead of using an indoor grill (or any grill at all!) I just put them on a grill type pan and let them sit for about two minutes until the golden lines appeared and the cheese had melted.

While these were good, they're missing something. I added sour cream to the shell, which definitely helped, but it still lacked. Maybe a little more spice, or pickles? My onion salt was also clumpy and far from fresh, so that may have had something to do with the lost flavor.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

CRAFT: Belle Dress

This is possibly my last Disney dress I'm fixing up. (I have a gorgeous Ariel one I could also do yet, but I don't have enough days for her to wear it on the cruise, unless I bump another one out!)

I saved Belle for last because it needed the most work and was the most challenging. Where the others mostly needed lots of hemming and taking in, Belle's dress needed to be pieced together using two different Belle outfits that both needed a lot of work. The main dress I was using had pink stains all over the bottom and the lower middle of the dress. The little tulle rosebuds were squished flat and hanging on by a thread. The tulle was ripped. The dress was way too big. The elastic in the straps had long given up.

My biggest challenge was the skirt. The stains couldn't be removed, and they were blaring. Instead of trying to mask them with putting glitter organza over them (which I had leftover from the Belle fish extender I made months ago, but so didn't look like it went quite right with the dress) I decided instead of hemming the dress, I'd do horizontal pleating and pick ups. The front panel had to be pleated, as the pick ups would let you see the stains still. The rest of the dress has pick ups about every 5 inches around, which I think makes it look more Belle like. There's enough fabric in the dress to make the pick ups look planned instead of awkward with gaping holes between.

I took the roses and fluffed them up over and over, then hot glued them onto the dress (I tried to sew them back on, but they had been glued before so the fabric was too hardened and stiff). I took some of the tulle from the other Belle dress and used it to fix up the tulle sleeves on this dress. I shortened the straps by half. I was going to add more tulle, but I think I'll leave it like this so it doesn't overwhelm the dress.

CRAFT: Sleeping Beauty Dress

Sleeping Beauty....this dress was a pain!

It wasn't a cheap Disney store dress I was working with. Instead, it was one of the really nice, well made ones, so I had to be extra careful to keep it looking adorable!

This had four layers of skirt, tulle and organza that needed to be greatly hemmed - I had to take about the length of my hand in. The skirt was satin - which meant that I had to do it without making pin holes through it all, and I had to do it by hand so there wasn't a glaring stitch all the way through half way up the dress. I'm pretty good with making tiny, invisable stitches, but it took hours to do all four layers. I couldn't do the tulle as well, so I just cut it shorter.

I took in the sides, took the length of the straps in by half, and fixed up all the pulled seams in the sleeves, as most of the fabric had broken away. This dress took me the longest of all the dresses, but I think it looks the best. Not so much in the pictures, but when I tried it on Katie (who would NOT stay still long enough to let me take a picture!) it definitely looked the nicest.

Sadly, I have nothing to pair with this dress. No fancy ribbons or hats, but I think the dress can stand on it's own.

CRAFT: Minnie Mouse Dress

I found this dress at a yard sale this past April. It was hanging from a garage door top, and I saw it sparkling in the sun from two blocks away. I immediately had to have it! However, there were a few problems with it. It was a size 6, and I needed a size 2 (which is just about impossible to find, unless you want a short baby skirt instead of the full dress). The waist ribbon was very frayed and the stitching was gone on one side. This dress was quite a bit of work!

The skirt was double layered, so I had to hem each individually, making sure the bottom skirt was just a little bit longer. The velvet top was too long on Katie and bunched up terribly, so I lifted it into an empire waist. The neck hole was gaping on her and went down to mid chest, so I tightened it up at the seams and also put the puffy cap sleeves closer together. I took in the sides as well, so it would fit her snug.

About a month and a half ago, long before I started work on this dress and it was still hanging in the closet waiting for me, I found a flower at Walmart that was just perfect. I immediately said that it would look perfect with this dress. Katie actually grabbed it and wouldn't let it go. I was being cheap, however, and put it back.

I looked for it every week after that because I regretted not getting it. I never saw it. They had one and only one, and our Walmart never restocks.  I put it back in that area of the store, but not the exact place. Today, while making a quick run in the store, I found the one I had been carrying. I had put it back in the craft section with the hair flowers, not in the little girl section with the hair things. Well this time I couldn't pass it up so I grabbed it and paired it with the dress. It does look perfect with it and will be adorable in Katie's hair!

COOKING: Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

I have never made stuffed peppers before. In fact, I never liked the idea of stuffed peppers before. The idea of mixing rice and beef inside a green pepper just didn't seem appealing to me.

And then, I saw this recipe on pinterest:

They looked AMAZING! I broke down and decided to try them.

Typical to the way I cook food, I didn't actually follow much of the recipe, only used some of the ingredient list for inspiration. I'm not even sure what the actual recipe says, because I didn't bother to read most of it - I'm terrible like that!

I mostly acted like I was making tacos, with a little extra mixed in. I cooked my beef (I used about 1-2 lbs for 3 peppers), drained the grease, then added taco seasoning. I also put in taco sauce, but I have no idea how much - I just dumped in until it looked good.

I got black beans and rice in a can (because in the store I was at and since I was in such a rush, I couldn't find just black beans), drained them, and mixed them into the beef.

While doing this, I had my halved, seeded peppers oiled up in the best olive oil we have (Bill got us olive oil from the Italian market in Philly and it's the best thing I ever tasted!) and roasted them in the oven. Once these were done, I flipped them over and filled them right away instead of waiting to cool. I put as much of the beef mixture as I could into them, piling high, then took the leftover mixture and put it around the peppers. I added cheese right away on top, then put foil loosely over the top so it didn't burn.

This meal was so fragrant, it filled the house with a mouthwatering scent. Even better than how it looked or smelled was how it tasted. I regrettably did not have sour cream, but I'll make sure I'll have it next time as that would have been an amazing touch! These tasted like tacos, but better because there was no constant assembly for each one like tacos has. The pepper took place of the tomatoes and lettuce, and the beef, beans and rice were better than the normal taco beef I have.