Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Time for another WIP Wednesday post. Once again I will link this up with Lee from Freshly Pieced.

February was a hard month. It was bone chilling cold for so much of the month that, while I didn't actually count, it at least seemed that the children had Green Dot Days about two-thirds of the time if not more. On top of that, there were three short school weeks in a row. First there was a PD Day, then there was the Family Day holiday and then there was Teacher's Convention. Of course with it so cold, the lovelies were stuck inside even during their days off, getting cabin fever, squawking with and at each other, running circles and generally driving everyone nuts. With all that, I didn't get nearly as much quilting done as I would have liked.

On the flip side, we did manage a few fun activities so it wasn't a total loss. Now it's March, the kids have full school weeks until Spring Break at the end of the month and the temperatures suddenly jumped above zero. In about three days we went from -25 to +6 and we are loving it even if it does make for quite the mess as a lot of snow starts to melt.

For my first WIP, I am posting my Storm at Sea quilt. I finally got the borders on it having decided to go with a small border of the same red as the heart and then a larger border of a blue with random white dots. Still not sure about the blue but it is on there and done so I am going with it. I worried that piano keys would just be too busy with the interior. I have a complimentary red for the binding that I am happy with since I had about three inches of the original red after the border was done. I had measured so I knew that I didn't have enough of it to bind with it so I used it up this way.

I got a blue minke with dots for the back but I goofed there too since I bought the yardage with the measurements of the top without the borders so now I have to get the final measurements and lay out the minke and figure out what else I have to get to add to what I have in order to actually have a full back. Math with stretch considerations. *Sigh*

My second WIP is the continuation of all those HSTs. I am piecing 16 HSTs into a patch that finishes at eight inches. I will be sashing them with squares that will finish at two inches. In order to have enough patches to finish two twin quilts I ended up needing 140 patches. I haven't actually counted what I have but my rough count says I have 84 done so if I am right I need 56 more. Some are organized but not yet sewn together and if that rough count is accurate then I have 32 more to organize and there are 24 organized on the tray. We'll see if my count is accurate later.

After I have all the patches sewn together I will sort and organize and figure out how I want the sashing to go. I can't remember if the finish has borders or not. We'll see later.

My third WIP is ME! A couple of weeks ago my husband encouraged me to take my first learn to Longarm course. I learned to panto and quilted a crib sized Yellow Brick Road quilt. I was so happy with the finish and have been slowly hand stitching the binding on. I haven't rushed at it or even focused that hard on it but just enjoying the process. The baby isn't due till May so I'm not worried.

I wrote this post yesterday so that I could get it up early because I am taking my second Longarm course today where I will learn to Freehand with the Longarm. I am so excited! Where I used to think that I must just be a topper, I found that I loved the process of longarming while I never enjoyed the quilting process on my domestic machine.

More than that, my incredible husband has encouraged me to take another course too. Judi Madsen of Green Fairy Quilts is coming here to teach three two-day quilt retreats. I dithered too long to get into the first two but within moments of finding out that she had been convinced to add a third I was on the phone to my Mother-in-Law who is going to drive up and stay to help with the kids so that I can take this course. As soon as I hung up with her I called and got registered into the retreat. SO excited! That will be April 14/15 so I will have to try to remember my camera so I have pictures to post even though I have no doubt that Judi will post about it too.

Hopefully I will remember my camera tomorrow too so that I can post about it. I forgot it last time so I didn't have photo evidence of my first class

Monday, March 10, 2014

Make It Monday - Cheesy Chicken Noodle Casserole

Last week, early on Sunday I got a lovely Crockpot Pot Roast going early in the morning. It was Teacher's Convention weekend so with the kids home for four days, I knew I wasn't going to get a whole lot of quilting done. I don't know about anyone else's kids but as soon as I sit down to quilt my kids are in and out of my room every two minutes with questions, stories, requests, you name it and with that many interruptions, I get very little done.

Instead I took the time to make sure that lots of prep work was done for the week as well as taking the chance to do a good amount of scrubbing through the house so that when they went back to school on Monday, there was very little left for me to do and I had lots of time to quilt without interruptions!

In between cleaning bathrooms and floors, dusting, etc., I got this prepped. I did the make ahead version where I did steps 1 and 2 and got all that in the fridge Sunday by lunch. As usual, I skipped the salt and pepper since we don't need the salt and the kids don't like pepper. I also didn't bother stirring the chicken into the sauce.

Then first thing Monday morning, while finishing making lunches and getting the kids fed breakfast I got water boiling and a bag of egg noodles done. By the time the kids were fed and dressed I had all of the components ready to go. I put a quarter of the sauce on the bottom of the crock, then crumbled a quarter of the chicken over the sauce and spread a third of the noodles over top. I repeated, finishing with the chicken/sauce combo. I then just sprinkled the cheese and crumbs over top, skipping the butter and got it turned on. 
Before we left for school I had it all put together along with beds made, tidy up all done, kids fed, lunches made, all of it! When I got home from walking the kids to school I was able to type up last weeks post and then spend the rest of the day quilting. That's a big win for me. Yay!!

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground chicken
2 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 10 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 10 oz can condensed chicken broth, undiluted
8 oz cream cheese, cut into 2-inch cubes and softened
1 12 oz package egg noodles cooked and drained
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
 2 Tbsp butter melted

1. In a skillet, heal oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until meat is no longer pink. Drain off liquid and set chicken aside.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and celery and cook until softened. Add garlic, paprika, mustard, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Blend in soup and chicken broth. Add cream cheese, stirring, until cheese is melted, Stir in reserved chicken.

3. To assemble casserole: Spoon 1 cup chicken mixture in bottom of prepared stoneware. Add a layer of noodles. Repeat until all ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of sauce.

4. To make Topping: In a bowl, toss bread crumbs with butter. Add cheese and spread over casserole.

5. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours, until hot and bubbling.

This dish can be partially prepared the night before it is cooked. Complete Steps 1 and 2, chilling cooked meat and sauce separately. Refrigerate overnight. Shred cheese, cover and refrigerate. The next morning, cook noodles and continue as directed in Steps 3, 4 and 5.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Make It Monday - Crockpot Pot Roast

A Make It Monday that sounds like a lot more work than it really is but is a hearty "Meat and Potatoes" kind of meal.

For the night before, it took me about 5 minutes to get the roast in the bag with the marinade. Any time someone opened the fridge, they turned the bag over. Easy!

I happened to be up early the next morning (I often am) and at 7:00 I grabbed a pan and started the browning of the roast. While it worked I got all the vegetables in the pot. When the browning was done, I dumped all the liquid in the pot and five minutes later, into the crock it went. I actually did this on a Sunday so I could post today but I have done it on a weekday and am able to get this done and also get my children fed breakfast and lunches made, etc and get them off to school with no trouble. Even easier if I have the lunches mostly made. Morning of work takes me 15-20 minutes.

Just before 5:00 I started pulling everything out of the crock and by 5:30 had everything on the table and we were sitting down for a tasty easy meal. While the gravy was simmering I was actually making the children's lunches for the next day.

On a school day, this recipe gives me so much time to quilt during the day while having a good home cooked meal at the end. This weekend happened to be Teacher's Convention and the third week in a row that the kids had a short school week. Also, cold as you know what. Today is another Green Dot Day and the whole weekend would have been had they been in school so I couldn't send them out to play to burn off some energy.

I don't know about anyone else with kids but mine can't seem to be home for the day without interrupting whatever I am doing every two minutes for something, whether a snack, booboo, argument, whatever so I find it very distracting to my quilting. Taking this in mind, I got this all in the crock and scrubbed the house so that today, I got the kids off to school this morning with a completely cleaned house and supper for today was in the crock before they left. I'll post next week how that worked because I now have the rest of the school day to quilt, guilt free!

I forgot to take a picture at the end but honestly, it didn't look much different except the vegetables all looked a little brown from cooking in the beef broth. Everything was so soft and tender and everyone loved it and ate it up with very little complaint. The kids tried an onion but didn't like them but other than that everyone was happy!

1 3lb Roast boneless Beef Chuck - trimmed and cut in half
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 large cloves garlic - minced
1 cup beef stock (preferably homemade) or low sodium broth or consommé
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
3 Tbsp sun dried tomato paste or regular tomato paste
2 medium onions quartered (about 3/4 pound)
1 16 oz package carrots - cut into 2 inch pieces)
16 small red potatoes halved (about 2 pounds)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp all purpose flour
3 Tbsp water

Night before:
Combine roast, soy sauce and garlic in a large Ziploc plastic bag; seal bag and marinate in refrigerator at least 8 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Morning of:
Remove roast from bag, reserving marinade. Sprinkle roast with pepper, gently pressing pepper into roast. Combine reserved marinade, broth and tomato paste; stir well and set aside.

Place onion, carrot and potato in a 6 quart crockpot; toss gently.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add roast, browning well on all sides. Place roast over vegetables in cooker. Pour tomato paste mixture into pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Pour tomato paste mixture over roast and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours or until roast is tender.

Place roast and vegetable on a serving platter; keep warm. Pour cooking liquid from cooker into a pot. Combine flour and water in a bowl with a whisk until well blended. Add flour mixture to cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes until slightly thick, stirring frequently. Serve gravy with roast and vegetables.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.