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Friday, May 17, 2013

Homemade Baby Gifts

Home sewn baby gifts galore for baby boy Ramirez

 Burp cloths along with matching car seat strap covers.  You can refer to my previous post about the strap covers, that I think are brilliant, HERE.
I also made a matching bib in this set. Here is the link to the burp cloths shown in this set: The Best Burp Cloths

 This is a look at the 3 bibs in the other set. 

 ...and just so you can see what they look like when they are opened up. I think these are my fave b/c the hug around your neck when they're over your shoulder. You can find the tutorial for these at: Cloud9Fabrics
 Last is this little gem. I made my first receiving blanket. Let me just tell you, I cannot cut a straight line for the life of me. Part of the reason probably is that I don't have a large enough cutting table. Fortunately, the end result was not TOO crooked. I also had a hard time making the rounded edges them same...but hey, IT IS my first time afterall. Maybe one day I will perfect these. 

As you can see, I did a sweet monogram with the alternating fabric that I chose. The perks of having a Silhouette cutting machine! Unfortunately, it was a bit hard to get it to stay on with just ironing it, so I had to also do a stitch around it. It would have probably looked a little more fun if the "fancy-stitch" setting worked on my machine, but sadly, it does not. 

If you would like the tutorial on this simple receiving blanket you can head over to Stay-At-Home Artist's blog. (You will notice that my corners look nothing like hers. Oops.) 

Pirate Quilt for Baby Ramirez

Arrr Matey, a Pirate Quilt it be! 
(don't mind my daughter's tiny foot in the background)

To start off, here is the link to where you can find the pattern for this quilt. I was fortunate that my awesome mother-in-law had this pattern already and I made a copy of it for myself. 
The pattern is called San Francisco Window Boxes

For those of you who may not know this already, this is only my second quilt. I found that this pattern was very easy for a beginner like me. Despite the number of times I had to rip out some seams. I believe that was due to my lack of paying attention to some things. I highly recommend this pattern for anyone starting out. It's simple and I think it is a really great way to display any awesome fabric line you have discovered.
 I personally fell in LOVE with this collection by Riley Blake called, Pirate Matey's. Wishing we were having a boy so I could make a million things with this fabric! 

Here are some progress pics:

 I love playing around with how to match up the fabrics. I am such a stickler with things having to match a certain way.

Here are the strips all put together...just need to add on the border pieces.

Sadly, one thing you will notice that I ended up not doing on this quilt is the outer border with the patterned fabric.  I ran into a couple of issues and tried to mend the situation, but it just didn't work out. So I ended up just ripping off that outer border and leaving it with just the white border.

Here are a couple of the finished product. I sent it to my mother-in-law to quilt for me and she picked the perfect quilting pattern for it. I used plain black fabric for the binding and get this...

for the backing, I used a dark blue micro fiber plush throw. I got this brilliant idea from J's mom and grandma. This tends to be much cheaper, especially for larger quilts. It also makes them extra warm. What a genius idea! 

I think this quilt turned out to be a great size for a baby quilt, and although he got it just before summer, it will definitely last through a couple of summers. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Balsamic Chicken Bruschetta

I don't know about you, but my mouth is just watering looking at this picture.  I'm already thinking about making this again for lunch tomorrow. 

Now for those of you who have not tried Bruschetta [bru-ske-ta], it is an Italian antipasto that generally consists of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil then topped with something delicious.  Most often seen is a mixture of fresh diced tomato, basil, olive oil and garlic. Variations of that include balsamic vinegar or some sort of cheese. 

For me, this dish just screams warm summer nights. I'm thinking about how much I cannot wait for fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden.  I actually have a pretty decent sized basil plant right now and was able to use it for this dish. Sadly I had to use store bought beefsteak tomatoes tonight. Nothing beats tomatoes straight from the garden though. I just remember, as a kid, picking them off our tomato plants in our small garden and devouring them like an apple. No salt or anything. 

Ok, I'll stop boring you about tomatoes.  A little background on how this dish came to be... 
my husband is on this new diet (I attempted but lasted 1 week and decided as a pregnant girl, I don't need to be dieting to lose weight. That comes post-baby. We'll try again later) Anyway, since I am trying to avoid making 3 different meals, I am making dinners that fit within the terms of his diet and are still satisfying to me. I typically improvise the meals I make and was trying to think of what we had on hand right now. I knew I had to make some chicken...but didn't want it to be the usual boring baked chicken, veggies and beans. We had several tomatoes on hand that needed to be used up and I was trying to rack my brain on what on earth I could make with chicken and tomatoes. I then remembered we had loads of basil on our plant. I immediately thought, I'll top some grilled chicken with that tomato, basil, garlic mixture.  I didn't stop there'll see in the recipe to follow. 

 Anyway, J can't eat bread so he got to just eat the chicken with a side of mixed greens.  I, however, made this into a very satisfying sandwich with some toasted sourdough. When you make this, feel free to try it either way... or heck, throw those mixed greens on your sandwich. 

On another note, this is a dish that is super easy to make for 2 or to feed a crowd.  You can choose to grill this on an indoor grill pan, outside on the BBQ or in just a regular saute pan. I will tell you exactly how I made it for 2 so you can see how quick and easy this is to throw together... then you can tailor it to the number of people you wish to feed. 


Tomato Topping:
1 lrg Beefsteak tomato, or 2 medium Roma tomatoes (ideal b/c they have few seeds)
5-6 Basil leaves 
1 clove garlic 
1/2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of sea salt

Balsamic Chicken:
1 lrg chicken breast
1 tbsp good Balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Tuscan Herb olive oil (this is where we got ours: Mountain Town Olive Oil) or any other herb                           infused olive oil

First you will want to prep your tomato topping to allow the flavors to come together. The further in advance that you make this, the better it will taste. 

Dice your tomatoes to whatever size you prefer. I did about 1/4" I believe. Toss these in a bowl with salt and the olive oil. Finely mince your garlic, or use a garlic crusher like I did. The finer the better so you don't end up eating huge chunks of strong garlic. Chiffonade your basil (see how HERE). Lightly toss these ingredients in with your tomatoes. Place your bowl in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. 

Heat your grill pan or saute pan on Med-high while you prepare the chicken.  Make sure to lightly drizzle some olive oil in your pan. 

To prep your chicken, season both sides well with salt and pepper. Since I planned to make a sandwich with mine, I cut the chicken breast in half then I split that by cutting through it like you would a bread roll but without going all the way through. That is the best way I can think to describe it. You basically want to be able to fan out the chicken breast. This also allows for a quicker cooking time. 

Next, in a small bowl or cup, mix together your balsamic vinegar and herbed olive oil.  

By now your pan should be hot and ready.  Turn the heat down to medium and place your chicken in the pan and then drizzle half of the vinegar/oil blend on top of the chicken.  Let that cook for 3-5 minutes then flip to cook the other side. Pour the remaining vinegar/oil blend on top of the chicken.  If you split the chicken like I did, it should take another 5-8 minutes. 

If you are going to make sandwiches with this, you will want to toast your bread during the last couple of minutes of cooking.  Ciabatta rolls or sourdough are ideal for a sandwich.  Prepare any other toppings, like lettuce, if you choose to add anything else to your sandwich. 

Once the chicken is cooked, top with tomato/basil mixture and serve as you wish.  When I made my sandwich, I just put a little mayo on one slice of bread to moisten it, placed my chicken on that piece...topped it with the tomato/basil topping then drizzled on a little balsamic vinegar and pressed on my other slice of bread. 

I will be completely honest with you when I say this.... I DEVOURED that sandwich. I don't even know how I managed to taste it...but I did! And it tasted AMAZING (in case I didn't mention that at all earlier...shame on me if I didn't.)

Also, a little secret, I saved some of that tomato basil topping for toast w/ cream cheese tomorrow! 

Like I said earlier, this is a pretty quick meal with a high flavor reward. I think you will really enjoy this one. As always, please leave me a comment if you try out this recipe. Your feedback means a lot!