Sunday, May 14, 2017

Easy Skillet Tamales

Recently I purchased some frozen tamales from Trader Joe's. I really liked them for lunch, they are quick and easy to prepare for a quick meal. However, I thought I would like to try making tamales myself. So I set out to find how tamales are made and what ingredients might be needed. Normally, tamales are steamed inside a corn husk to cook them, but the husks are thrown out because they are inedible. Plus it's a lot of work to shape and wrap the tamales to prepare them.

So I opted to try a one pot tamale dish instead. Essentially everything is prepared in a big Covered skillet or Dutch oven.

Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this dish
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 medium sweet onion, skinned and chopped finely
1 package of taco seasoning
1 TSP ground cumin
1 small can of chopped green chilies, undrained
1 28 OZ large can of tomato sauce or puréed tomatoes
1 large can dark red kidney beans, undrained
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Sliced green onions (optional)

1-2 packages cornbread mix (plus eggs and milk as called for in the mix instructions). I used 2 boxes Jiffy brand cornbread mix plus two eggs and 2/3 cup of milk.)

Sauté the ground meat and onion on medium high until the meat is browned and no pink remains. Drain off all the fat from the meat. Return to the pan and add in the tomatoes, beans, taco seasoning, pepper, paprika, and chilies. Stir until well combined. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes on medium low heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the cornbread, eggs and milk and stir until large lumps disappear. Remove the lid from the meat mixture and add the cornbread to the top of the meat using a large spoon. Re-cover, adjust the heat to low and simmer for 18-20 minutes. Once the cornbread is done, add the grated Mexican cheese shreds. Re-cover and allow the cheese to melt (about 5 minutes more on low). Add sliced green onions if desired as you serve.

OMG! Look at that Cheese!

Makes 8-10 hearty servings.

#skillettamales #look@thatcheese! #tamales #cornbread #easyskilletdinner

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sweet n Spicy Chicken Meatballs

So last week I was searching around PINTEREST for some recipes for chicken curry dishes. I came across several which I pinned to my allrecipes board, the place where I keep recipes that look interesting and want to try. I made chicken curry using thighs and it was delicious and easy. However, one of the recipes I pinned was a chicken with curry and coconut using ground chicken.

I was at Trader Joe's and they had beautiful ground chicken. I bought a package so that I could try the other recipe I had pinned. Unfortunately, the links to ththe recipe were broken and I was able to see the actual recipe itself. So I searched and found another chicken meatball recipe. I did not have any Frank's hot sauce on hand as the recipes required, so I morph the recipe into sweet and spicy chicken meatballs use a mango pineapple salsa instead. the red pepper flakes gives it a little kick, you can adjust the heat according to your preference by adding more or less red pepper flakes. If you like really spicy food, feel free to add some hot sauce to turn up the heat.

Here is what you will need

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground chicken
1 cup panto breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black or white freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp crushed garlic (I used elephant garlic crushed through my garlic press.
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tsp onion powder or onion flakes ( I used the latter)
1 tsp smoked papkrika
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Place all these ingredients into a bowl and toss gently to blend well, but do not over handle.
Roll into either 20 quarter sized or 12 medium sized meatballs.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 12-14 minutes in a pre heated 400 degree oven. Halfway through, gently turn the meatballs to ensure even baking and browning. They should be a golden brown when done.

While the meatballs are baking, put the following ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat and allow it to heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Once done, turn off heat and cover.

To make Sauce:
1 cup mango pineapple salsa
1/4 cup brown sugar
2-3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp salt

I made a cup of brown rice medley which cooked in 2 1/2 cups of water and 1 TBSP of butter for 35 minutes. I served the meatballs covered with sauce over the rice sprinkled with parsley flakes for color and garnish, It was a tasty and very filling dinner.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Chicken, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Hot Pot

Today was a low energy, overcast day for me. My BFF told me she was making soup. I thought that sounded like a good idea, so I set out to make something from ingredients I already had in house. I just didn't feel like heading to the grocery store.

Here is what I used to pull together this delicious warm soup. The chicken thighs along with the carrots, sweet potatoes and spices plus the quinoa make for a very hearty soup.

Place the following ingredients into the bottom of your crockpot.

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 large sweet onion, chopped into bite size pieces
2 large peeled sweet potatoes, chopped into 3/4" cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup dry quinoa
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium sized can of diced tomatoes with liquid

Mix together the following and then pour into the pot.
1 package dry herb and garlic soup mix
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tap parsley flakes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin powder
4 cups low sodium chicken broth (1 box)
1 med can of diced tomatoes with liquid
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
2 TBSP honey

Cover and cook on high 4-4.5 hours. Serve hot in big bowls with a good crusty bread and some herbed butter. It will keep on warm or low for several more hours if needed.

#chickensweetpotatoquinoasoup #slowcookerrecipes #yummy #easysoup #lovemycrockpot

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Smoked sausage with Potatoes and Crispy Veggies

I like my veggies crispy. Peppers and Onions, coupled with garlic, herbs and spices sautéed until just barely cooked are wonderful. I find them more tasty and digestible than those that are overcooked, limp and mushy.

Tonight's dinner was simple. Turkey kielbasa, fingerling potatoes, two brightly colored sweet peppers, a big sweet onion and loads of fresh pressed garlic.

I heated the EVOO on medium high until it was rippling hot. I tossed in the washed and sliced fingerling baby potatoes and allowed them to crisp and brown ever so slightly before adding the garlic, onion and seasonings, including: thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning. I allowed the onions and garlic to become fragrant before adding the chopped up red and orange sweet peppers. While these were dancing around in the pan, I added 1TBSP of coconut oil and let them simmering tossing them frequently to keep things cooking evenly. Between stirs, I cut the kielbasa in half and sliced it into bite sized pieces. After about 4-5 minutes While the veggies were still very crispy, I added the sliced meat and a good shake of parsley, pink salt and fennel seed.

I continued to cook all of this on high for maybe 5-6 more minutes, before removing from the heat and serving. The combination of the spices and herbs, fresh frangrant veggies, coconut oil and meat made for a delightful melange that was quite pleasing to my palate.

There will be plenty of leftovers for the next couple of days, but nothing beats it hot off the stovetop, steaming hot and fragrant so the dogs are circling around for a taste. Unfortunately, they can't have any tonight because of the onion, garlic and spices.

#smokedsausage&veggies #whatsfordinner #kielbasaskillet

Friday, March 31, 2017

Rainy days are great for quilting

Some days I feel a bit guilty for spending so much time inside sewing and quilting, usually when the weather is really nice. However, I am never of this mindset when it rains. Today is a very chilly, rainy day and both my dogs and I are perfectly happy to be warm and dry inside away from the weather. I think that rainy weather is perfect for guiltless quilting time.

What are you working on today? I am quilting two custom jobs, one in each long arm. No pictures today, until they are done.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


It's late March 2017 and the weather this week has been pretty cold. Today was a gift. I had no where I needed to be so my digs and I were able to sleep in a bit and cuddle later than usual. After a beautiful, long morning walk with them in their sweaters, I set out to run errands. The weather was incredible, sunny, warm and very spring like.

My first stop was my LQS. I picked up a 16 FQ to be used as the fabrics for these four sided placemats. I also procured a new sent of snips to use while long arming. I had noticed that one of my two pairs had become dull and didn't clip threads as easily as they used to when I first got them.

Then I ran across the street to the local Tuesday Morning store just to stop in and see what they had in the way of coffee and luggage that might be able to serve as a new rolling bag for my lighter weight Bernina 230 sewing machine. I had measure the machine so when I spotted this rolling bag for crafts. I measured it and it seemed like it might work. The store had tons of FQ bundles that I also picked up to use in my Dresden quilt series, chevron and zig zag and dots. I had the clerk out all the FQs into the rolling back and went along my merry way. Next stop, grocery store for just a few basics.

I went home, unpacked my find and unhappily discovered the rolling bag wasn't big enough for the machine. I unwrapped and inventoried my FQ purchases and sorted them by color and pattern to be put away. Tossed the country pork ribs into my trusty crockpot with some herbs and spices and a bottle of BBQ sauce. Dinner was cooking itself. After another long and slow dog walk with no coats or sweaters, I too, off to return the rolling bag to a different Tuesday morning store. I was given a credit and decided to just go and take a look to see what this different store might have of interest. More FQ bundles called my name. Under the shelving I happened across a Robert Kauffman 25 fat quarter bundle.. It was Texture Spectrum, a rainbow assortment of colors and it was under 40 dollars. I snapped it up with gusto and two pairs of socks and go the heck out of there. I was pshyched!

For those f you that don't know what a fat quarter (FQ) is, its a piece of fabric 18" X 22" or so in size. Shops cut half yard pieces and then slice them across the width to make a more useful piece of fabric. A quarter yard would measure 9" X 44". Typically quilt shop quality Fat Quarters cost anywhere between 2.50 - 5.00 each. This discounted bundle made them a bargain @1.60 each! The list price for a 25 piece bundle is usually $85. I know into exactly how I am going to use them.

It really did turn out to be a FAT "quarter" day. So much for not buying any new fabric in 2017!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ACCUQUILT Go! Is Great for Speed Piecing and Stash Busting

I was first introduced to the ACCUQUILT GO! Die cutter a little over four years ago at my local quilt shop. One of my quilting friends had the machine, a few dies and the cutting mats for them. I tried using it to cut out tumbler shapes from Halloween fabrics. It was the easiest and most efficient way to cut out a charm quilt.

Charm quilts are usually made from a single shape and from many different fabrics. The tumbler is a very old quilting shape and has been around for a very long time. I had never used that shape to make a quilt. Two of my friends and I decided to share all of our various Halloween fabric collections and cut tumbler shapes to make quilts. I spent an entire Sunday afternoon die cutting tumbler shapes from hundreds of spooky and fun novelty fabrics. Each of us got 1 or more tumbler of each fabric.

There are two very important advantages to the ACCUQUILT Go! The first is accuracy. Even though I consider myself an expert quilter, and I have been using rulers, rotary cutters and mats since they first hit the market in the late 1980s, I find it next to impossible to get the consistency and accuracy of shapes cut with ACCUQUILT when I manually cut them with a rotary tool set.

The second advantage is speed. I find that I can only accurately and quickly use my rotary tools to cut 4 layers of fabric, but with the ACCUQUILT, I can cut 6 layers of shapes several times in the same amount of time. There is no twisting and turning of the fabric you are cutting when there are angular shapes. I do use my rotary tools to trim up the fabric into pieces to run thru the die machine, but after loading it and with a few simple and fast turns of the crank handle, I have my perfect shapes every time.

I have noticed that because the pieces are accurate and consistent, my piecing goes faster and the seams always match up with little to no effort on my part. This is due to the notches cut into the corner of the tumbler shape which assist the sewer in properly lining up the edges when sewing the seams. While not all of the myriad of die shapes have these, many of them do and it is a real time saver and plus for the sewing perfectionist.

In an attempt to declutter and downsize my fabric stash, as well as create some quilt tops for charity, I spent last Friday afternoon, slicing and dicing and die cutting three different sets of shapes from most of my novelty fabrics. I had an over abundance of fish fabrics that were leftover from a quilt I made years ago for my beloved dad. I also had tons of fat quarters in juvenile prints and really bright fabrics. And there was that stash of camouflage fabrics I had purchased during the paintball years. Finally, I was surprised to find a large stack of cowboy, western and horse imprinted fabrics that I had acquired when I was into country western line dancing almost 20 years ago. I am sure I had purchased them to make a themed quilt for a certain two stepping cowboy I knew, but he passed away years ago and it was time to do something with them.

One Saturday, armed with my machine, sewing supplies and a large ziploc bag full of tumbler and half tumbler blocks I headed off to a local church to spend the day sewing with a very lovely group of quilters. I managed in one afternoon to piece together 10 rows of 16 tumblers each from the fish fabrics to almost complete a top. On Sunday, I finished piecing the rows together and made a few more to right size the quilt for a queen sized bed. I still needed to add borders, but I saved some of the large chunks of pretty aquatic fabrics to use for backing, borders and binding. I think that's pretty fast piecing.

I originally ended up with three large bags of blocks to piece together from all those fabrics. Some are half hexagons, which will form whole hexagon blocks and are easier to piece than a full hexagon. The other shapes are equilateral triangles which will be made in to baby and kids quilts for charity. I have gone through two and a half of them.

I also use them to cut out applique shapes in freezer paper both for myself for applique quilts as well as for teaching some applique classes. I find perfect circles to be a problem for many and Accuquilt circles solve this problem for me time and time again!

If you are thinking about buying one of these die cutters, I say go for it. Mine has enabled me to use up a good chunk of my fabric stash, make quilts faster and more accurately and that is always a good thing. I see a lot of quilters asking online if the die cutters are worth the investment. I would stRt out with the cutter, a die and may or two and go from there. I would go out and invest in every die and mat they make, because you probably won't use them all. If you belong to a group, sewing circle, guild or quilting bee, it might be worthwhile to see if anyone I that group already has the cutter and just invest in the die and mats. You may be able to strike a deal with your friend to use their cutting machine in exchange for use of your die and mats if they differ,from ones they already have. Sharing is good in this case.

In closing, I would like to state that in no way shape or form am I being compensated by Accuquilt to endorse or blog about their products. I just feel as if I can help to shed some light on how wonderful their die cut products are for anyone that might be on the fence about purchasing them.

#accuquilt #diecuttersrock #tumblerquilts #dianefamaquiltdesigns #lovemyjob #love2longarm #love2quilt #usingupmystash