Mango peach barbecue sauce

Recently we’ve been making a lot of fruit and vegetable purees for a certain little man, and occasionally this means I end up with an extra 1 of something or other sitting around in my kitchen.  This week, I had a leftover peach and a leftover mango.  As I mentioned when I talked about meal planning, I like to roast meat on a Sunday and then use it in a few different ways throughout the week.  This week, we roasted pork tenderloin with a spice rub.  I was routing through the pantry while coming up with meal ideas for the week that would use up the pork, and I came across some slider buns that my husband had bought.  Hmm… pork tenderloin, mango, peach, slider buns…  Obviously I landed on making barbecue sauce (because who wouldn’t?!)

This is my first ever attempt at making my own barbecue sauce, and I also wish to point out that I am originally from England where we barbecue once a year if we’re lucky, so please forgive me if you look at the recipe and think “that’s not real barbecue sauce”.  Feel free to call it whatever else you want if that name bothers you.  This was made with a minimal number of ingredients, all of which could potentially be left out or substituted if you have something else that you want to use.

First of all, sweat a small, finely chopped onion down in a small amount of olive oil.  Add a peeled and finely sliced 1 inch piece of ginger and 3-4 cloves of garlic, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until fragrant.  Add the diced peach and mango and cook for around 15 minutes on a low heat until the fruit breaks down.  This may be a shorter or longer time frame for you, depending on how ripe the fruit is.  Add around 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp each of ground coriander, cumin and salt, and 1/2 tsp each of all spice and black pepper.  Add 1/2 – 1 tsp chili paste (or don’t, if you don’t like it) and cook for a few more minutes to incorporate all the flavors.  Blend until smooth, and return to the pan.  Simmer for around 30 minutes, adjusting the acid and sweetness level with more vinegar and either agave, maple syrup or brown sugar according to your personal taste.  Add around 1 tsp of lime juice.  Let it cool and it’s ready to go!

I hope you enjoy this.  If you try this, especially if you try it with other ingredients, please let me know how it turns out!

Mango Peach Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ripe peach, diced
  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chili paste (optional)
  • Agave, maple syrup or brown sugar (depending on preference and fruit used)
  • 1 tsp lime juice

  1. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over a low – med heat
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant
  3. Add the fruit and cook for around 15 minutes until it breaks down
  4. Add the remaining ingredients except your sweetener of choice and the lime juice and cook for a few more minutes
  5. Blend until smooth and return to the pan
  6. Simmer for around 30 minutes, adjusting the acid with additional vinegar and the sweetness with your chosen sweetener to your personal preferences
  7. Add the lime juice and stir to combine
  8. Remove from the heat and allow to cool

DIY coconut cold brew coffee

Coffee has been something of a necessity for me for many many years now.  It’s truly a miracle that I manage to get anything done without it.  I tried to go completely decaf during pregnancy, and in all fairness I made it to about 3 pm.  Admittedly, that was actually “scraping through to 3 pm wondering why I’ve been completely useless all day” making it.  So not really…  However, despite my absolute requirement for coffee, I couldn’t stomach iced coffee at all until a couple of years ago when I discovered a far too unhealthy caramel, chocolate and cream laden concoction at a local cafe.  Since then, I have discovered the wonder of all manner of frappucinos and cold brews.  I will say that I need extra flavor in my cold coffee, especially if it comes with ice cubes.  However strong the coffee is, you lose so much flavor by having it cold.  So, I was far too excited when I found out about the coconut cold brew at starbucks.  Toasted coconut syrup and coconut milk in a cold brew?  Yes please!

I don’t often go out for coffee these days.  It’s typically only after my Saturday morning yoga class.  A couple of weeks ago I left class all excited about my coconut cold brew, and was even feeling nice enough to pick one up for my husband too.  I got them home along with a couple of breakfast sandwiches, and was so excited to dive in.  It was unbelievable…  But sadly, not in a good way.  It tasted of absolutely nothing.  No coconut flavor.  No coffee flavor.  Just watery, but still headache-inducing, brown stuff.  Total waste of money.

However, the excitement of what that coffee could (and should) have been, wouldn’t go away.  So, I decided to have a go at making it myself.  Since it’s a cold brew, it does take time.  But it’s totally worth it.  And an extra tip – instead of putting ice cubes into your coffee, freeze undrunk coffee in ice cube trays and put those in your coffee instead.  That way, you won’t water it down, and the flavor will stay nice and strong.

I like to make the coffee the night before.  Use your regular amount of coffee, put it in a french press with water and put it in the fridge overnight until you’re ready to drink it.  Next comes the syrup.  Dissolve half a cup of sugar in half a cup of water over a low heat.  At the same time, toast half a cup of unsweetened coconut until golden.  Add the coconut and 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract or essence (if using) to the syrup, remove from the heat and leave for 3-4 hours to infuse the syrup with the coconut flavor.  Strain and reserve the coconut.

Normally we have coconut milk in the pantry, but I guess I used it all when I was cooking, so I decided to make toasted coconut milk!  Rinse the coconut to remove any remaining syrup (otherwise your coconut milk will be very sweet) and add to a blender with 1 cup water.  Blend until smooth and strain to remove the coconut pulp, squeezing to make sure you get all of the milk out.  And you’re ready to go!

I don’t sweeten my hot coffee (with the exception of my December peppermint mocha obsession), but I find I need around 3 teaspoons of syrup in a large cold brew to get the flavor, and this syrup is no exception.  Next I plan to try out some other flavors of syrup, so I’ll post the recipes when I have them figured out.  Enjoy!

DIY Coconut Cold Brew Coffee

For the coffee:

  • Coffee
  • Water
  • French press

For the syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract or essence (optional)

For the coconut milk:

  • Toasted coconut (from syrup)
  • 1 cup water

To make the coffee:  Put your usual amount of coffee in the french press and fill with water.  Leave to brew in the fridge overnight.

To make the syrup:

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat
  2. At the same time, toast the coconut in a pan until golden brown
  3. Add the coconut and extract (if using) to the syrup
  4. Remove from the heat and leave for 3-4 hours to infuse the flavor
  5. Strain, reserving the coconut

To make the coconut milk:

  1. Rinse the reserved coconut to remove remaining syrup
  2. Add to a blender with the water and blend until smooth
  3. Strain to remove the pulp.  Store in the fridge.

Bacon brussel sprout pizza

Good evening all!  I may have mentioned on more than one occasion that my husband is one of those guys who finds a new food or restaurant, and that becomes the only thing that we can eat for weeks.  And weeks.  And weeks.  While most of the time this drives me absolutely nuts, since he already eats like a 12 year old when I don’t cook for him, I was pleasantly surprised when last year he became obsessed with brussel sprouts.  Since I’m continuously trying to get him to eat more vegetables, I was at least happy about eating these several times a week!

In England, brussel sprouts are typically eaten with Christmas dinner, boiled to death alongside the roast turkey.  The rest of the year, they don’t really exist for 99% of the population.  So, imagine my surprise when the waiter at our favorite restaurant recommended their brussel sprouts to us, and when they arrived they were even better than his recommendation had made them sound!  They were crispy, mixed with bacon and topped with parmesan cheese – absolutely delicious!  Since that day, I have made many attempts at recreating that wondrous bowl of vegetable bacony goodness, to varying degrees of success.  Even better though, is that every time my husband sees brussel sprouts with bacon on a menu, he orders them!  Our most recent variation was the bacon brussel sprout flatbread from California Pizza Kitchen, which we are both big fans of.  So when I had half a bag of my tiny green best friends left over from cooking roast chicken on Sunday night, I knew exactly what I was going to do with them.

Given the baby’s now 1.5 hour naps, I figured I could make the pizza dough from scratch if I did it early in the day.  The recipe I like is this one from Karrie at happymoneysaver.  I have made it in the food processor and in my stand mixer, and I don’t find any difference between the results of the 2 methods, so go with whichever you prefer.  Since we have the a/c on all the time here in Houston, I typically heat the oven to 200 F and then turn it off, to make a nice warm place for the dough to rise.  I do the same thing with bread.  For both I find it takes about an hour to double in size.  I made a full batch of the dough, which is enough for 8 servings, and froze the other 6 individually wrapped and placed into a large zip top bag.  I then kept the portion that I needed in a container in the fridge for the rest of the day.

This is not one of my “throw everything in one pan” recipes, but it is pretty quick and it’s worth making a couple of extra dishes for your other half to wash later!  If you refrigerated the dough, you’ll want to let it come back up to room temperature before you use it, so while that’s happening and your oven is preheating to 450 F, you can prepare the toppings.  I started with a basic cheese sauce:  melt the butter over a low heat, add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes.  Gradually add the milk, stirring or whisking to prevent lumps.  Once you get to around the consistency you want (I like it fairly thick for this), add the cheese and stir until it’s all melted.  If the sauce is now too thick, add a little more milk.  If it’s too thin, you can add a little more cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the toppings:  Dice the bacon and cook over a medium heat to render the fat.  Cook to your desired crispiness, then remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the fat.  Add the thinly sliced onion to the bacon fat and cook over a low-medium heat until caramelized.  Remove the stems from the base of the brussel sprouts, cut in half lengthwise and finely slice.

Roll or stretch the pizza dough to your desired thickness (I find it’s better if it’s on the thin side), leaving a slightly thicker crust around the edge.  Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the base (if you have extra leftover it’ll be great with some pasta or in a croque monsieur for lunch!), and sprinkle the onion and bacon over.  Add the brussel sprouts, thyme and parmesan, and bake at 450 F for around 12-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown, rotating the baking sheet part way through if needed.

Bacon Brussel Sprout Pizza

My husband actually ate it, all of it, and said that he couldn’t even taste the vegetables!  That’s definitely not true, you can absolutely taste them, but what he means is that he doesn’t have to tell himself that it’s not vegetable in order to eat it!  It really is delicious, and completely customizable – whatever cheese, vegetables or other leftovers you have in the fridge would all be great.  Please let me know how it turns out if you try it!

Bacon Brussel Sprout Pizza

[ingredients]

For the pizza dough (credit: happymoneysaver.com):

This amount of dough is enough for 4 of these pizzas – the rest of it will freeze well in individual portions.

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • Approx. 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan

For the toppings:

  • 2-4 slices bacon
  • 1 small onion
  • 8-12 brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup parmesan

[directions]

  1. Make the dough: mix the dry ingredients in a stand mixer or food processor.  Add the oil, then with the mixer running gradually add the water.  Once the dough comes together, place in a lightly greased bowl and leave to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.  Knock the dough back to remove the air bubbles and portion as needed.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 450 F
  3. Dice the bacon and cook until crispy over a medium heat to render the fat.  Remove the bacon, but leave the fat in the pan.
  4. Finely slice the onion and add to the bacon fat.  Cook over a low-medium heat until caramelized.
  5. Trim, halve and finely slice the brussel sprouts.
  6. Make the sauce: melt the butter, add the flour and cook over a low heat for a few minutes.  Gradually add the milk, stirring or whisking to avoid clumps.  Once it reaches the desired consistency, add the cheese and continue to heat gently until melted.  Add more milk if the sauce is too thick, or more cheese if it’s too thin.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Stretch or roll the dough out to roughly 8×12 inches, leaving it slightly thicker around the edge.
  8. Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the dough, leaving the edge uncovered.
  9. Sprinkle the onion and bacon over the sauce, and then cover with the brussel sprouts.
  10. Sprinkle the thyme and cheese over the top.
  11. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown, turning the baking sheet part way through if needed.

 

 

Meal Planning – what, why and how

Wow, it’s been a crazy few weeks.  Finals for my students, nap and feeding transitions for my son, a visit from my Mum, family this, friends that… On top of that, my life now seems to be lived in 10 square feet of space 90% of the time, and so I’m just waiting for the day when I get to take a breath.

With all of the busyness of life, I’ve been trying to encourage my husband to help (or at least not hinder) with my efforts at meal planning.  To me, this is something that’s often synonymous with eating the same thing over and over again, and having 30 plastic containers in the fridge taking up valuable space.  This isn’t what it is to me.

So, first of all, the what.  For me, meal planning is simply about making the most of the ingredients that you have.  It doesn’t mean that you have to have the same dish for dinner 4 nights in a row.  It means that you need to know what you have, and how you can use it.

This brings me to the why.  Primarily, it’s cheaper.  As a country, here in the US we throw out up to 50% of the produce that we buy.  That’s staggering and shameful.  Something I have always struggled to understand with my husband is the culture of disposability that seems to be so ingrained in the people who grew up here.  I’m not saying that this is the only country where this is an issue, but it seems to be more prevalent here than elsewhere.  And so I’m hoping that by planning my family’s meals at least a week at a time, we can avoid throwing out produce that was purchased in a large bag or box for a single meal.  Less waste = less money spent = more money for other things.  On top of the fiscal aspects, I am one of those people who absolutely needs organization.  I am one of those people who looks at pinterest and dreams of that beautifully organized pantry with the matching containers all with their own chalkboard paint labels on them.  It drives me nuts when my husband gets home from work and then starts to figure out what we might have for dinner that night, and when plans aren’t made in advance so I never really know what else I can or can’t get done.  This is seemingly a genetic thing.  I’ve never known anyone as meticulous as my Dad.  Even when he found out he was dying, he made lists of people to notify, paperwork to organize, just about everything that could have been needed.  Apparently it’s just something that we do.

And so, finally, how.  The most traditional thing we eat in England (as far as I’m concerned at least) is a Sunday roast.  It could be chicken, pork, lamb, beef… Whatever you like.  It usually comes with roast potatoes (a personal favorite of mine) and some assortment of vegetables and gravy.  So this is what I like to do.  I’ll cook some kind of roast on a Sunday night for us, maybe a couple of friends.  Then, I’ll have a plan for how else to use the rest of the meat during the week.  If I roasted a chicken, I’ll use the bones to make stock which might form the base for a soup, stew or some ramen (which would also contain some of the meat), and the meat might also go into chicken salad or stuffed peppers, maybe used as a pizza topping.  I typically let my husband pick at least one of the meals for the week, so once I know what he wants, I’ll look at other ways to use those ingredients.  If he wants something with spinach, then I’ll add a steak spinach salad and a spinach pesto pasta dish (also a good vehicle for leftover chicken!) to the list for that week.  What we end up with is at least a week’s worth of food from maybe 10 ingredients (plus pantry staples like spices), and we prevent the situation of the half a bag of spinach sitting in the bottom of the fridge until it’s inedible.

Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to post some of my favorite recipes for using your leftovers, so stay tuned!  Also, if there’s a recipe that you’d like, please let me know and I’ll get working on it for you!

Introvert parenting – what I’ve learned in 6 months

As I sit here enjoying the brief respite that nap time brings, along with my very large coffee and homemade breakfast biscuits (stay tuned, recipe to come!), I am reflecting on the first 6 months of my journey into parenting.  More specifically, parenting as an introvert.

I feel that being an introvert is something that’s often misunderstood, and so becomes almost a dirty word.  People think that it means that you’re anti-social, or that you don’t like people, and that isn’t true at all.  I love my friends and family, and have had some of my best times over the last few years since we started “girls’ nights”, where we can all gather over food and wine, and just enjoy each other’s company.  What introversion really means to me is all about how we recharge.  Extroverts are energized by other people, whereas introverts recharge by being alone.

Personally, I’m a really strong introvert.  I need that alone time.  And not need like “I’ll be a bit cranky if I don’t get it”, but need like crying and screaming in the corner pulling my hair out need.  For me, this has been the biggest challenge of parenting.  Simply being needed that much is exhausting and draining for me.  When the baby doesn’t need me, the cat’s meowing because she wants attention, or my husband needs something, or housework needs to be done, or I’m working where 30 other people need me.  Some days it’s hard to find time just to breathe, especially when I’m making a choice between breakfast or a shower, lunch or cleaning the kitchen so I can make dinner…

Don’t get me wrong, my husband does help.  But his upbringing was different to mine, and so we do things very differently.  I don’t feel like cooking dinner but I do it because we have food in the fridge and I want to save money.  He doesn’t feel like cooking so he orders take out.  I’m not saying either is better, it’s just different.  And when you’re running on very low reserves, different can be frustrating too.  And then of course, there’s the mommy guilt.  The little voice that tells you what you should be doing instead of sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee, that tells you that you’re a bad mother for wanting time away from the baby.

If any of this sounds familiar, I feel for you, I really do.  Parenting is hard, and parenting as an introvert brings its own list of very specific challenges that other people just may not get.  And so I wanted to share a few of the conclusions that I’ve come to over the last 6 months.

1. You’re not alone

Introverts make up 25-50% of the population, so you’re not the only person dealing with this.  Of course, you may not wish to reach out to those people, and they may prefer to be in their own bubble for a while too!  But just knowing that I’m not abnormal has helped.

2. It’s OK to need what you need

I was racked with guilt about wanting time away from my family.  Here I was with a great husband and a beautiful, healthy, happy baby boy, and I just wanted to leave them at home and go somewhere else.  Anywhere else.  What I had to accept is that while being a parent changes your priorities, it doesn’t change your fundamental personality.  If you needed a certain amount of alone time to recharge before you had kids, you’ll still need it after you have them.  That’s just a part of who you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The worst thing you can do is to completely ignore what you need.  You can’t take care of anyone if you’re running on empty.

3. It doesn’t make you a bad parent

Mommy guilt is real.  Whether it’s because you use disposable diapers, feed your baby formula, put them in daycare while you’re at work, let them watch TV or eat junk food, or simply because you need a break from them for a couple of hours, there always seems to be something that someone says we should be doing better.  In fact, apparently 94% of parents struggle with guilt over their parenting choices.  The truth of the matter is that no-one is perfect, and it just isn’t possible to have and do everything.  You simply can’t work full time and be at home with the baby full time and do all of the housework and have a healthy homemade dinner on the table at 6 every day and have perfect make-up and hair and workout and and and….  At least, I don’t see how, and I certainly wouldn’t be sane if that was my life.  I feel very privileged that I don’t have to work full time and am able to be at home with my baby during the day.  But I work in the evenings, so I sacrifice time with my husband.  And there are days that I have to choose between having a shower and eating breakfast, so typically I choose to eat, because I’m nursing a baby and need the calories.  So maybe on those days, I spend a few hours with my hair smelling of baby vomit that got spat up into it at 6:30 am.  Choice and sacrifice is part of the deal of being an adult, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent or mean that you don’t love your child.  In fact, it makes you a great parent, because you’re doing what needs to be done, and that includes taking care of yourself on a level that other people can’t help with.  So if you need a night out with the girls and a couple of glasses of wine (a.k.a. Mommy juice!), that’s OK.  And if you need to leave the baby at home with Daddy for a couple of hours while you go to a yoga class, go to the gym, get your haircut, get a manicure, or just go to starbucks or the park and read a book, that’s OK too.  I can’t speak for everyone, but my husband actually likes having extra time with the baby, because he really only gets an hour a day with him otherwise, so you might actually be doing everyone a favor if you take a few hours for yourself.  Doing what’s right for you (at least sometimes) is what’s right for your family.

4. Tell your partner/support person

One of the hardest parts of this for me was to tell my husband that this was what I needed, and a lot of that comes back to the Mommy guilt and the feeling that I should be able to do everything and should be doing it better.  But once I told him we were able to make a plan so that it doesn’t get out of hand.  On Saturday mornings, I leave my husband and baby at home with a bottle of expressed milk in the fridge, and I go to a yoga class with one of my favorite instructors.  Sometimes I’ll come straight home so that I can watch the English Premier League football afterwards (I will still leave my husband to take care of the baby during this), and sometimes I’ll go to a coffee shop where I’ll buy myself a snack and a coffee and I’ll sit in the sun and read a book.  Yep – I’ll spend money on myself, and I’ll be by myself for an hour or more, doing something that outwardly achieves nothing.  And you know what?  It’s great, and I don’t feel guilty for doing it anymore, because I know that inwardly what it achieves is keeping me sane, and that’s vital for me and for my family.  My husband now knows that he needs to be at home and completely available on a Saturday morning.  And if your partner isn’t available, ask someone else to watch the baby.  Something I’ve learned from my friends is that everyone wants to play with the baby for a couple of hours.  So remind yourself that it’s OK to let them!

I hope something in there helps you if this is something you’re working through.  And if you have any other tips or advice for introvert parents, I’d love to hear them!

Lemon lavender shortbread (gluten free!)

First of all, happy Easter!

This recipe is something that I first made for an Easter brunch last year.  My best friend offered to host, and so of course my first thought was to bake.  Actually, that’s usually my first thought, regardless of occasion!  She has a pretty serious gluten allergy, and I love that this challenges me to find new things to bake.  I’ve been baking with regular wheat flour since I was a child, but I’m still relatively new to the world of gluten free baking.

While searching for gluten free shortbread I found this beautiful and simple recipe from King Arthur flour.  The base shortbread recipe is only 4 ingredients: almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract and butter.  Throw everything together in a mixer, chill, slice and bake.  Even with a small monkey at home I can get that done.  Since I was making this for an Easter brunch, I wanted to go in a more “springy” direction with the flavor, so I opted for lemon and lavender.  I would suggest you don’t overdo it with the lavender – it’s a pretty strong flavor and can either end up a little bitter or smelling like Grandma’s soap, neither of which is overly appealing.  This is an incredibly versatile recipe that lends itself well to a variety of flavor combinations, and it’s so easy to make that you’d be able to whip up a batch for any event, whatever the season.

The add-ins for this recipe don’t require any additional steps in terms of the actual baking.  Just throw them into the mixer with everything else.  I added the zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 tbsp of food grade lavender which I had pulsed in a magic mix to grind it slightly, but you could put it in whole if you wanted.  Once everything starts to come together, turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap and squeeze it into a log.  Chill for at least an hour to let the butter re-harden, slice into rounds approximately 1/4 inch thick and bake at 350 F for 12-14 minutes, until just starting to brown at the edges.  They’ll firm up as they cool, so don’t overbake them thinking that they’re still soft so they’re not done yet.  Been there, done that.

Of course, being me, this wasn’t enough work yet.  I so love to make things more complicated for myself, just in case everybody else doesn’t think they’re fancy enough.  So, once the shortbread had completely cooled, I half-dipped them in melted semi-sweet chocolate.  If you choose to melt your chocolate in the microwave, do it in small increments so that you don’t burn it.  Let the chocolate harden, and there you have it.  The most Easter-y thing I could come up with, completely gluten free, and totally melt in the mouth.  OK, so my chocolate isn’t going to be winning any awards any time soon, but unlike many gluten free baked things, these don’t have a weird cardboard-type texture and you won’t find yourself looking for the “real”  thing later on to make up for it.  So I consider that a win!

Gluten free lemon lavender shortbread

Base recipe: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp food-grade lavender, ground or whole, as desired
  • Optional – semi-sweet chocolate for coating

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in mixer with paddle attachment until a dough starts to form.
  2. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log
  3. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  5. Slice chilled dough into rounds 1/4 inch thick
  6. Place on lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes
  7. Cool for 10 minutes on tray to allow cookies to firm up before transferring to wire rack
  8. Once completely cool, half dip the cookies into melted chocolate, if using.

 

Bandanna bib

Finally, after all of the chaos of last week, I’m able to get back to some of my (far too) many ongoing projects.  If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know that I currently have a drool monster living in my house!  Since he got more mobile and is rolling everywhere, he has also become something of a spit up monster.  In the hope of keeping at least some of his clothes clean, I wanted to put bibs on him all the time, instead of just for meal time (homemade baby food posts to follow – stay tuned!).  But, the bibs that we have, while cute enough and certainly functional, cover up the cute outfits that I so diligently choose several times a day.  Cue my search for bandanna bibs.  These tend to be smaller than regular bibs, so they’re great for drool (although not so much for food-related messes), and can be more a part of the outfit than a cover for it.  And you know what I found?  Man, are those things expensive for what they are.  I mean, seriously, a small piece of flannel and cotton for $4 each?!  Are you kidding?!

With this is mind, and armed with coupons, off we went to Joann fabrics and crafts after church on Sunday.  I had planned to get a couple of flannel fat quarters and a couple of cotton fat quarters and start from there.  What I actually ended up with was a small bundle of each (reduced from $9.99 to $5.99 each).

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OK, the polka dots may not be the most masculine of prints, but it’s going to be drooled on by a baby who hasn’t yet been introduced to the concept of masculinity.  I think we’ll get away with it.

I should say at this point that I am definitely not meant to be a seamstress.  Sewing always seems like it should be so easy, but for some reason I seem to create a multitude of problems with tension, threads catching or breaking, or just not even getting the stitches straight.  So if I can make these, you can!

For these you’ll want one piece of cotton and one piece of flannel.  Actually, it doesn’t really matter what fabric you use, as long as at least one of them is absorbent.  Once you have your fabric, you want to start with squares.  Or at least, roughly squares.  I measured 12 inches down each side of the fabric, folded it intro a triangle and cut around it.  If you want the pattern in a specific orientation when the bib is finished, you may have to rotate your fabric, since the diagonal between 2 corners will end up being the top of the bib.  One square will make 2 pieces, so you can just use one square if you want the same pattern front and back, or you can use it to make 2 bibs so that you can replace the first one when it’s been soaked through!  Keeping your “square” folded into a triangle, fold it in half again so that you can find the middle of the long side.  Either mark or make a small cut here (you won’t be keeping this piece, so don’t worry about making a hole in it). Unfold back to the first triangle, and measure 1 inch down from the middle point that you just marked or cut.  Draw a straight line from this point to each corner and cut, leaving 2 pieces that are roughly triangular with a shallow v on the long side.

Pin the pieces with the right sides facing each other and cut around an inch off of the top corners to make it less bulky when you turn it.  Sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, making sure you leave a hole to turn it the right way afterwards.  Where you leave the hole is up to you.  Personally, I find the finish a little neater if I leave one of the ends open, but it is definitely harder to turn.  You may also want to cut a small notch into the point at the bottom (being careful not to cut the seam), just to remove some of the excess fabric.

Once your bib is the right way round, press it to neaten the seams.  Of course, you don’t have to do this.  If I’m rushing because I don’t have much nap time left to work with, I’ll skip this step.  If I was making this for someone else, I would definitely do it.  Pin the hole closed, and top stitch all the way around  Finish up the ends, sew on a snap and you’re all done!

The only thing left to do is wrangle it onto the drool monster!

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Since the fabric was reduced and I got 40% off the snaps, I managed to make 8 of these for about $14.  There are no specific fabrics that you need to use for these – you could upcycle an old towel or t-shirt, or dig through the bargain bins at the store.  The only hard and fast rule is to make sure those snaps are on nice and tight so that they don’t become a choking hazard.

If you want a printable pattern instead of measuring, folding and cutting, please let me know and I’ll make one.  If you make some of these, I’d love to see the results!