Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Panettone Bread

"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread." - Mother Teresa

I made Panettone bread for the first time, and it is the most beautiful looking and smelling bread I've ever seen.
Here are some photos from the baking process:

The "sponge," made the day before

The dough, with raisins, candied chestnuts and candied orange and lemon peel

The loaves in their molds, before baking

One of the loaves after baking

The recipe I used can be found here. The only thing I did differently was to add 1 1/2 cups of chopped Marron Glace (candied chestnuts). I found the molds for the loaves at Sur La Table. Inexperienced bakers may not want to start with this particular bread, as it can be tricky to master.

My family and I always eat slices of Panettone, toasted and buttered, with sausage, orange juice and coffee for breakfast on Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Evenstar Fingerless Gloves

"An Elven maid there was of old, a shining star by day: Her mantle white was hemmed with gold, her shoes of silver-grey." - "Fellowship of the Ring," J.R.R. Tolkein

I made these beautiful fingerless gloves a year ago as an ambitious beginning knitter, and just finishing them nearly drove me up the wall. If you attempt these and succeed, you will not only have a beautiful pair of gloves, but a deeper capacity for patience. If you don't succeed, well, just try not to stab something with the knitting needles...

This picture was taken from the pattern website.

The pattern can be found here.

Merry Christmas!

Knitted Snow Cowl

"Whose woods these are I think I know/his house is in the village though/he will not see me stopping here/to watch his woods fill up with snow." - Robert Frost

Winter is the perfect time to bring out the scarves, neck warmers and cowls. Don't have any? No problem - this beautiful, elegant cowl is easy to knit and can go with just about any outfit imaginable.

note: I borrowed this photo from the pattern website

The pattern can be found here.

Stay warm this winter!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Christmas Baking List

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." - John Muir

Christmas baking time is here! My mom and I have compiled our list of cookies, and this year I am going to attempt to bake a Christmas bread.

So, first on the list is Panettone, an Italian sweet bread that is traditionally made at Christmastime. It has candied citrus fruit peel, raisins and chestnuts.

Some of the cookie recipes we're going to make that I'm most excited about include this Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt cookie.

...and this chocolate peppermint crinkle cookie.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Garlic and Herb Popovers

"As for Rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship" - Sir Thomas More

These popovers come from the Victoria Magazine website. They're very easy to make, and really tasty.

You can find the recipe here.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

"An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." - H.L. Mencken

If you've ever been to a Max and Erma's restaurant, chances are you've had this soup. This version gets very close to the original.

Makes: 8 servings
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 oz. velveeta cheese
  • 10 oz. Ro*Tel tomatoes and chilies
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 cup chopped, sauteed onion
  • 1 tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
  • Optional: flour tortillas (about 5), Vegetable or Peanut oil for frying
In a pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in small amounts of chicken broth at a time, then whisk in milk. Reduce heat to low and stir in Velveeta chunks; stir until melted. Mix in Ro*Tel, chicken, onion and spices. Cook until soup is heated through, do not allow to burn.

Note: to complete this soup, you can either a) make homemade fried tortilla strips, or b) buy Frito's corn chips as a substitute, although the homemade tortilla strips are just better. (I used Frito's in the picture above)

To make the tortilla strips: cut the tortillas into strips and deep fry until golden in oil that is 350 degrees hot. Drain on paper towels. Ladle the soup into a bowl, top with shredded cheese, ladle on more soup and top with fried tortilla strips.

Enjoy, and stay warm this winter!

Quilted Dog Bed

"Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job." - Franklin P. Jones

I realize that my latest posts have been centered on my dogs, but they're just so cute and I love making things for them. This is the last one for a while now :-)

Every Christmas, my older dog loves to stretch out on his back underneath the Christmas tree, and drift off to sleep with his paws in the air and his snout pointed towards the twinkling, bejeweled evergreen branches. This year, my family and I are hoping to give this slightly indecorous practice of his a seasonal touch. Hence the Christmas dog bed.

I made this using pre-quilted fabric sold by the yard at Jo-Ann's stores. It can be made in any color/theme desired.

You will need:
  • about 1 to 2 yards of a pre-quilted fabric at least 48" wide, in the color/theme of your choice
  • Embroidery floss in a complementing color (I used red for this, although it doesn't show up very well)
  • Sewing thread in a color that matches/complements the fabric
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needles - one small and one large
  • Microfiber filling (or pillow stuffing)
This bed is made using the same principle for making a pillow. Cut the fabric into the size dog bed you want and sew all but one edge together (this can be done on a sewing machine, to make it go faster). Fill the "pillow" with the stuffing, but don't make it too full - it should compress fairly easily. Be sure to get the stuffing pushed into all the corners. Sew the remaining edge together by hand, using the sewing thread and the smaller needle. Take the embroidery floss and separate three strands from the rest, and use these to thread the large needle. Tack the pillow in as many places as necessary (if a rectangle, six places; if a square, four places, etc.) using the needle and thread. Be sure to reinforce each tack by sewing over it multiple times.

Once finished, give to a favorite furry friend.

Waiting for Santa Claws :-)

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Homemade Fleece Tie Blanket

"May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door." - Irish Blessing

In certain areas of the country, we've had an unusual amount of snow for this early in December, and the nights (not to mention days) have been cold!

One of my favorite blanket projects is this simple, cozy fleece tie blanket.

a small version, for my dogs

one of my dogs on their new fleece blanket

You will need:
  • No less than 2 1/2 yards each of two different patterns of fleece (for a regular adult-sized blanket) - one solid, one pattern (adjust number of yards according to preferred length of blanket)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring Tape
Wash the fleeces before using them. After they have dried, lay the two panels together exactly, with no overlap (trim if needed). Using measuring tape and scissors, cut out a 4" by 4" square from one of the corners. Cut 4" long strips that are at least 2" wide along the edges, tying as you go, and cutting a 4" square from each corner, until finished.

Be sure to stay warm this winter!