Saturday, July 23, 2016

Jalapeño Poppers in a Bundt Pan

Like many of you, I enjoy trolling through Pinterest from time to time. I most focus on quilting designs and patterns and recipes. There are thousands of beautiful pictures for inspiration and I have happily found a bunch of very cool recipes to try. When I find something that looks interesting, I pin it so I can come back to later and make it. I typically will follow the recipe the first time I make it. Sometimes, I will make it with whatever I have on hand.

I also love my bundt pan collection and many of you have seen my bundt pan creations over the last couple of years. It's even kore fun to find recipes for bundt pans that aren't desserts. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across Bundt Pan poppers. I couldn't wait to try them.

To make this you will need
A bundt pan that has been sprayed with non stick spray. (Pictures shown below in a 6 cup smaller size pan)
Fresh jalapeño peppers 24-30 count
8 ounce block cream cheese
1/2 cup low fat mayo
8-10 slices uncooked bacon of your choice (I used turkey bacon)
1 TSP dehydrated onion flakes
1.5 TSP garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 TBSP of your favorite mixed dry spice mix (I used Caribbean Getaway spice blend)
6 OZ grated cheddar cheese
6 slices of cheddar cheese
6 slices of pepper jack or provolone cheese

Wash, trim the tops off and core the peppers, being careful to remove the seeds and inner veins of the peppers. I found a grapefruit knife is very handy to core and seed the peppers. Rinse under cold water and place dry cut side down on dish towel. make sure you are very careful to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the pepper cores and seeds While the peppers are drying off, in a medium sized bowl mix together the following ingredients: cream cheese sorted to room temperature, mayo, onion, garlic and other seasonings.
Cook the bacon slices in the microwave between paper towels for between two and 3 minutes, depending upon the level of crispness you desire. I chose turkey bacon because I prefer it ver other types, but you can use whatever is your preference for this recipe. Allow to cool for a few minutes, crumble into pieces and add to the filling mix. Also add the shredded cheddar cheese at this time. Blend the filling well.

Pack the cleaned peppers upright into the pan. A large bundt pan will hold 45-50 peppers, so I used my smaller bundt for the ones I had on hand. 24-25. If they don't fill the pan, simply crumple up some foil to fill in the empty space to they all stand upright. Remove them one at a time, stuff with the filling and place back into the pan. Continue until all of the peppers have been stuffed.

If making ahead, you can cover with foil until ready to bake. They will last 2-3 days unbaked if covered tightly. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then place th pan on the middle shelf of the hot oven and baked uncovered for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven, increase the temp to 400 degrees. Cover the peppers with the cheese slices in two layers. I put the white cheese on first and topped with the yellow cheese slices as the final layer. Pop it back in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes more at 400 degrees until the sliced heeses have melted and covered the peppers in gooey goodness and the tops start to bubble and brown.

Remove and serve immediately with toothpicks or small forks. A large spoon works well to scoop them out of the pan as they can be a wee slippery after baking.

If you are hosting a party and some of your guest do not eat hot peppers, you can easily include some of the small sweet red, yellow and orange peppers From your grocery store for some of the jalapeño peppers. I did this and those were a big hit with my friends that avoid spicy foods. it also makes for a little more color variety in the dish. Next time I will probably make a pan of each type because they were so good and they literally disappeared within minutes of setting them out.

#yumyum #bundtpanpoppers #bestappetizerever #bundtpanmagic #bakedjalapenopoppers

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Custom quilting, oh how I love thee

I have been a long arm quilter for 15 plus years.  Originally I started out with a Gammill Optimum Plus machine on a 12 foot table.  At the time I purchased my machine, Statler Stitcher was still under development and was not yet available as an option for any machine.  The first time I saw the Statler in action, it was on a trip to the AQS Paducah quilt show.  The product was entering its infancy and didn't seem like something I needed.  I was happy to do pantographs and the occasional custom quilt with my hand guided machine.

Fast forward 15 1/2  years and here I am, with two long arms, both Gammills.  One machine has the Statler and Creative Studio 6.0.  I love both machines for different reasons.  I love how my well used Gammill glides with its upgraded tracks and wheels.  It's a big heavy machine, but it stitches beautifully and holds quilts up to 127" in width.  It's familiar and I prefer to use it for custom hand guided quilting and for quilting simply pantographs when the Statler is going full tilt on another quilt.

On the other hand, I use the Statler more these days because I can program it and let her run after the quilt is loaded and project created.  The table on this machine is only 10 feet so it can handle quilts up to about 105" in width, most of the quilts I take in.  It's fast, sews beautifully and it allows me to do many patterns that would be next to impossible to sew as well manually.  I am still learning the features of this machine.  I really love it when I learn something new.

I guess I feel lucky that I started out with a hand guided machine.  Many quilters these days only do pantograph and do not offer custom quilting services.  Pantographs  are great for many quilts, but I also get a lot of quilts that demand more than just edge to edge all over patterns.  I especially love using the Statler to really quilt details in blocks, sashings, and borders that enhance the quilt.  I am of the believe that in most cases, the quilting makes the quilt.  There are exceptions to this, but I always try my best to ensure the quilting enhances the quilt and does not detract from the quilt top design.

I can do custom work on both machines, using both digital patterns sized to exactly fit the blocks of a quilt, or on the old machine by working from the front hand guiding the machine.

Here are two recent examples of custom quilts.   The first one was sewn by Sandee Gold.  It's a bright a cheerful oversized queen quilt.  I quilted each of the 100 block individually using a digital pattern called "Feather your Cabin".  The outer borders were done with a large border and corner pattern that at also had the hearts and feathers in the blocks patterns.  I also filled in swirls on the inner and outermost edges of the quilts to ensure even quilting density across the quilt.

The other quilt was too large for my 10 foot table and needed to be quilted on the older, larger,  hand guided machine.  Using a ruler to help guide me, I quilted around each of the thousands of orange peel petals the quilter had carefully appliquéd down to the quilt top. This quilt was made by Marie Cummings as a wedding quilt for one of her children.   It has a white background and backing and various shades of purple.  I started out doing a background fill called ground cover, but quickly realized that the wedding quilt needed more dense quilting in the background and that it would be faster to quilt it from the front of the machine freehand myself.

 I added in some little critters amongst the leaves, butterflies, hummingbirds, dragonflies and ladybugs.  Because it's quilted with matching white thread, you really have to look to find those personal little touches.  I know the quilter and the recipient appreciate the time and effort that went into finishing this masterpiece.  Marie has brought me several more to quilt since I finished this one for her.  Here is a photograph that she took with it finished on the bed.

I have found that I am able to get into the quilting groove easier with customer quilting like the one above.  To me, there is a rhythm one gets into when stitching freehand that is very calming and enjoyable.  Because I am not following a specific pattern, but rather filling in negative spaces with stitching, it's challenging but in a very good way.  Part of the challenge is to see how long I can stitch before needing to stop unless my bobbin rules out.  I find that there are many ways to thread paint a quilt and it's almost like the quilt quilts itself.  I am just the person driving the machine.

Many of you may not realize that even after the quilting is done, there is always some clean up to do after taking the quilt off the machine.  Threads to clip, edges to trim and I find running my hands and eyes over both the entire front and back sides of the quilt is a must.  Then there is the matter of calculating the invoice, sending that out to the customer and making the appointment to return their completed masterpiece to them.

I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love most every day.  Most of all I am thankful for my wonderful customers, all of the referrals they and the local quilt shops give to me and for my friends and family for the support they provide as my little business grows.  I strive to exceed their expectations and nothing is better than the reaction someone has when they pick up their quilt and see our collaborative efforts combined into such beautiful textile art.

#love2quilt  #love2longarm  #customquilting #dianefamaquiltdesigns #orangepeelquilt #logcabinquilt #extremequilting

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Customer encounter worth sharing

Today found me working at my LQS (local quilt shop).  The morning was slow, but this afternoon a young gentleman came into the store and explained that he was looking to make a quilted item for his wife for their second (cloth) anniversary.  He had intuitively brought with him several items from their wedding and bedroom to show me their colors.  This made it easy to open the discussion with him so we could figure out what he would end up making.

Armed with a navy blue pillow sham, two ribbons in sage green and eggplant colors as well as a note card, we set out to select some fabric choices from the shop that would work well together to create something.

We selected a purple floral fabric, several navy blue prints in both traditional and modern styles, a sage green colored small microdot, and two neutral background fabric, one of which had script writing on it.  This was clearly his favorite fabric because his wife is an editor for a publisher.

He has no sewing or quilting experience and only a couple of weeks to make this token of love to surprise his bride.  I pulled out my IPad and we searched Pinterest to see what types of things caught this eye and those he felt would be something that he could make and his wife would love.

We settled on a bench pillow that would consist of the fabric he chose, the pillow form and the date of their wedding as well as their initials.  I told him to,start thinking about cool or fun and meaningful sayings they have and maybe we could stencil that on the pillow as well.  I told him where he could easily purchase the bench pillow form, and we agreed he would return to the store tomorrow and next week to set out on his quest to make what I am sure will turn out to be the most romantic 2nd anniversary gift a fireman could give his wife.

Stay tuned for more chapters over the next week or two.  I can't wait to see what we end up with and promise to try and post pictures.

6-7-2016. Update:
Well, I wanted to update you on the progress Mr. Brett made with his romantic cotton wedding anniversary present for his bride of two years.  Ladies and Gents, they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

I know he worked really hard on making this special gift and I am impressed that not only did he learn how to sew, but he did a darn good job of picking the fabrics, and making something really special for his lucky wife.

Here's to my new favorite hero!  This just proves that anyone can learn to sew and make something really special if they out their mind to it and visit their LQS!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I'm back and #MakingfaceswithMelissa

I unexpectedly took a long break from blogging due to a family illness and death.  The love of my life became ill in the autumn and subsequently passed from this life in late December.  I decided that I needed to mourn privately and not write about it publicly for a variety of reasons.  I am grateful to my family, close friends, quilting buddies and customers who have supported me through this process.  The process isn't by any means over, but I am in a better place than I was a few months back.

This past Friday and Saturday I was fortunate enough to have been able to attend a lecture and participate in a #MakingFaceswithMelissa workshop along with my lovely sister in law Peggy.
Peg came to visit on Thursday and we had a bonus event that evening with the Brownstone guild to hear the fabulous Paula Nadlestern talk about her Kaliedoscopic quilts.  The slide show and process she uses were well worth the price of admission.  She is pretty entertaining as well.

However, the highlight of our weekend, was the Melissa Averinos workshop and lecture.  This talented artist was able to openly discuss her life and her process for making various quilts featuring faces.  I, for one have never been able to draw a face.  Eyes, maybe but never a good face.

Her slide show and lecture review how she came to where she finds herself today as an artist and a quilter.  It's very apparent that her life has been far from perfect, but she is so talented and funny it was a pleasure to sit and listen to her talk about it.

Saturday's workshop was the best workshop I have ever attended in my life.  That is saying alot because I have been to so many over the years, that I rarely take them these days.  We went through the process of learning how to draw a face and then convert that into a fabric image.  That's oversimplified of course, but I was so amazed that a roomful of 21+ quilters would all be able to follow and make these wonderful facial images in fabric.  Even more surprising to me was that almost all of them were self portraits.  I guess that makes sense, because we see our own faces multiple times a day in the mirror.

Here are four of the images that Peggy and I created.  Mine are on the left and hers on the right.
I believe everyone had a wonderful time as evidenced by the online feedback and the huge smiles on everyone's faces in the group photo below.

You can also see many of the wonderful pieces that were created under the guidance of Melissa Averinos.  I love my NJMQG and want to thank them for hitting a grand slam home run with this workshop and program.  

If your guild is looking for a phenomenal workshop that is different than most being taught out there, be sure to check out Melissa Averinos.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed and everyone will be able to draw a face even if they aren't able to before class.  

Special thanks to Melissa Averinos for being such an inspiration and a good hugger!