Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Recessed sewing table

Not my idea, nor my plans, but I couldn't be any more thrilled with the result! The table will be finished in the spring with a multi-layer stain/paint/distressing effect, when things warm up. A little too cold for stains/paints right now. In the meantime, I'll use it as is, and love it all the while!

The hole drill got a little warm!

The jigsaw took care of the straight edges.

A router to add a rounded edge to the opening, and give it a more polished look.

Now for the supports on the underside.

The supports viewed from the top.

And in place...sewing machine now recessed!

The plans can be found here. There were no measurements, as every table is different, as is every sewing machine. What tips can I offer? Make sure you leave plenty of room for your plug ins to the right of your machine. And measure, measure, measure. It was very straight forward, and something anyone could do with the right tools. I have lost quick access to the front storage box on the machine base, but it was an easy sacrifice to make for the benefit of a recessed machine.

Have I said how much I love my new table?

I would suggest scouring Craigslist for used craft/dining tables. That's what I did, and I found my table for $70, and it's good size at 36" x 52". It came with a full length bench, as well. Just make sure you get one that's solid wood.

With my fabric shelf in place, my craft room is really taking shape. Much more to come, but to say I'm thrilled so far, would be an understatement. A pink chandelier is calling my name for the room, too.  Hum...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Fabric storage for Christmas!

If you're like me, there is little that makes you happier than organization, and even more so, an organization project for Christmas!! Yep, I would rather do something like this on Christmas, than open a bunch of presents, and eat myself into a food coma. Well, the food coma is still quite delightful, but to me, this is the best Christmas present of all...something that organizes a special part of my life: my projects.

The idea was inspired by a set-up I saw with curtain rods, and curtain clips, but I wanted a shelf, not just a fabric hanger. I also wanted it to be easy to remove/replace fabric, so I came up with the wire shelf, and spring clamp idea. I think it works!

I had the shelf and the clamps. I only needed the shelf brackets, which cost $5.96 for the two I needed. I will paint an inspiring quote on the wall above the shelf at some point, but as I'm just getting my craft/sewing room organized and put together, it will be a work in progress.

The sewing table project will commence next week, when my husband cuts the hole in the top of the table to recess my machine. I have a refinishing idea in mind for it that I think will be fun and visually interesting. Next up: the hunt for a large table for my paper projects. More on that later. For today, I get to smile and enjoy the new fabric storage shelf. I love it!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The gift is in the wrapping, too

I like handmade things. The older I get, the more I like them. I have always loved a well wrapped gift, too, with coordinating ribbon, wrap, cards, etc.

This year I made gifts for Christmas, as I often do, and, as is always the case, I needed a nifty way to wrap them up. I decided to put all that beautiful craft paper to good use, and make my own. I've made paper boxes before, but this year I wanted something a little different. I stumbled upon a blogger who made pyramid boxes. Perfect! I re-sized the dimensions to fit my needs, and made my own out of 12" x 12" patterned card stock.

More on what I put inside after Christmas...don't want to spoil the surprise for the recipients.  =)

Interested in this little box? You can find the original template and instructions here, and it fits 8-1/2" x 11" card stock. For a larger box, just upscale your dimensions, and use larger card stock. This was a very easy project that produced a lovely result.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cauliflower and chicken potato pancakes

This is one of those days I'm having a love affair with leftovers.  Sometimes you look in your refrigerator and see leftovers that just seems to call out to you to do something with them other than just re-heat and eat. That was the story for me this morning, so I made something special.

I'd made mashed potatoes last night with potatoes, leftover roasted cauliflower and brown butter, but I made so much, I needed to do something with them, so I thought, "hum, potato pancakes." I also had some pineapple slices leftover from the portobello mushroom burgers from the other night, as well as a little teriyaki mayonaise, and some of my teriyaki sauce, too.  There was also some leftover roasted chicken in the fridge that really needed to find a place in a recipe today, or face being tossed into the garbage tomorrow.

The pancakes were hearty, and the teriyaki was sweet.  It was a great breakfast.  I will make them again.


Teriyaki mayonaise
1/4 cup mayonaise
2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce

Brown butter bread crumbs (adapted from the Smitten Kitchen)
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 cup leftover roasted chicken, finely chopped
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pineapple slices


In a small bowl, combine mayonaise and teriyaki sauce, and stir well. Transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium sized skillet set over medium heat, melt butter. Stirring constantly, simmer butter until the milk solids begin to brown. Quickly add shallots and garlic, and saute for about a minute. Add panko bread crumbs, and continue cooking until they begin to brown, about a minute. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Add olive oil to a large skillet, and heat over medium high heat.

In a medium sized bowl, combine mashed potatoes, chicken and the beaten egg. Stir until well combined. Using a 1/3 cup scoop, shape into thick pancakes, coat well in the panko bread crumbs, and transfer to the skillet.

Cook until well browned on the first side, about 2 minutes.  Flip the pancakes, and add the pineapple slices to the skillet to brown, as well.

When pancakes and pineapple slices are nicely browned, plate, top with teriyaki mayonaise, the pineapple slice, and a drizzle of teriyaki sauce.  Serve warm.

Cauliflower and potato mashed potatoes

This is one of those times I feel like I just made the right combinations, for the best possible result. These mashed potatoes are superb. Creamy, fluffy and packed full of flavor.  They have the added benefit of being a little more healthy than your run of the mill mashed potatoes, thanks to the addition of the cauliflower.


1 head cauliflower
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
4 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 head cauliflower
8 ounces cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Whipping cream (or half and half)


Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Break cauliflower into small florets, and toss with olive oil to coat well. Spread onto a large baking sheet, season with salt/pepper, and transfer to the preheated oven. Roast until well charred, about 20 minutes.

Place prepared potatoes into a large kettle, and cover with water. Set to boiling. Cook potatoes until fork tender, 20-25 minutes.

Into the bowl of your stand mixer, add the cream cheese.

Into a small skillet, add the butter, and melt. Cook butter until milk solids begin to brown. Quickly add garlic, and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to the bowl of your stand mixer.

Add roasted cauliflower to your food processor, and pulse until well pureed. Transfer pureed cauliflower to the bowl of your stand mixer.

When potatoes are done, drain, and add to the bowl of your stand mixer, along with the cream cheese, brown butter and pureed cauliflower. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment, and mix on low speed until combined. Slowly add whipping cream, while the mixer is running, and beat until you reach the desired consistency. Serve warm.

Note: if you need to keep mashed potatoes warm while waiting for other dishes to finish, place them into a slow cooker, and set heat to low.  The potatoes will stay warm, without drying out, for up to an hour.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Portobello mushroom burgers

This was a treat I didn't expect. I had a feeling there was potential, but I really had no idea it would be as good as it was. It wasn't difficult, either. A lot of things to pull together, but most could be done in advance, which made things easy.

I think this would be easier on the grill, simply because the pineapple, buns and 'shrooms could be all done together, with the rest prepped, and ready for final assembly, but in the middle of winter, and extremely cold temperatures, we had to do it inside. It worked just fine.


Teriyaki mayonaise
1/4 cup mayonaise
2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce

Brown butter bread crumbs (adapted from the Smitten Kitchen)
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup panko bread crumbs

The sandwich
2 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
4 onion, kaiser or sourdough burger buns, split
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 fresh pineapple slices (canned works, too)


In a small bowl, combine mayonaise and teriyaki sauce, and stir well. Transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. With a clean, damp cloth, clean mushroom caps, by gently rubbing them.

Generously oil a baking sheet. Place mushrooms on the baking sheet, gills up. Generously drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt/pepper. Transfer mushrooms to the heated oven, and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven, flip mushrooms, and continue baking another 15 minutes, or until deeply browned with a light char.

In a skillet set over medium heat, melt butter. Stirring constantly, simmer butter until the milk solids begin to brown. Quickly add shallots and garlic, and saute for about a minute. Add panko bread crumbs, and continue cooking until they begin to brown, about a minute. Remove from heat, and set aside. Note: I made mine the night before, and refrigerated them.  I microwaved them for about 30 seconds before I wanted to serve them, and it worked just fine.

Generously spread teriyaki mayonaise onto the split sides of the buns. In a skillet set over medium high heat, with mayonaise sides down, brown buns. When golden brown, remove from skillet and set aside. Add pineapple slices to the hot skillet, and sear until a nice char forms on each side of the pineapple.  Remove from heat.

When mushrooms are done, slice them about 1/4" thick, and begin layering your sandwiches - one large mushroom is enough for two sandwiches.  Layer mushrooms first, then bread crumbs, pineapple, a small dollop of teriyaki mayonaise, and an thin onion slice.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Panko bread crumbs

I sort of put homemade bread crumbs and croutons in the same category: so easy, so flavorful, so fresh and so cheap, it's a crime to spend money on the over processed, under flavored, preservative laden versions you can buy in the grocery store.

I often have need for Panko bread crumbs, and will avoid a recipe that calls for them, simply because I do not want to pay money for the aforementioned versions available to me in the local market. I decided to try making my own. The good news is it was so easy, I can't believe I didn't try it sooner.

Any day old bread will work. If you make your own bread, this is a great use for any that goes into day two and remains unconsumed. Even cheap, store bought bread will work, but I recommend you buy the bread baked in the market bakery vs. the commercially baked bread sitting on the shelves. If you look for the day old bread, it's even better (read cheaper). One loaf of bread will make a lot of bread crumbs.

I used whole wheat hoagie rolls for my bread crumbs, but you can use anything you like. I did not season mine prior to baking, either. If you like seasoned bread crumbs, season away.

Simply cut your bread into pieces that will easily feed through the hopper of your food processor. Soft bread tends to struggle a bit going through the shredding disk, so if your bread is soft, let it sit out for a few hours, so it dries a bit. Fit your food processor with the large shredding disk and feed the bread pieces through the hopper.

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Spread bread crumbs onto a baking sheet, in a thin, even layer. Bake until dry, 10-15 minutes. You may need to go a little longer, depending upon how many bread crumbs you are baking at one time.

When sufficiently dry, remove from oven, and allow to cool on the baking sheet for an hour or more. This will allow the crumbs to dry further. When fully dry, transfer to an air tight storage container, and keep up to six months.