KAF #bakealong: Everyday Whole-Grain Bread

I've been quite negligent in blogging. :( Life happened. Our summer was busy with softball, work, vacation, 4-H, fair and the start of school. I spent almost all of September on the road for work. It's been good to be home more in October, though I did spend a whole week at a conference followed by a class.

Here in the Nebraska corn belt, we are deep into harvest. A few neighbors are finishing up, but we are only about half done. Luckily, the weather has been nearly perfect. Just last week we were reminded about the 1997 snow storm that dropped more than a foot of snow in this part of the state closing schools and roads for up to a week in some places.

This fall, the King Arthur Flour crew started a monthly #bakealong challenge. I missed the August launch, Pane Bianco, and have yet to find an excuse to make that great looking bread. We joined in September with some Inside Out Pumpkin Muffins. We weren't huge fans of the muffins. They looked better than they tasted, but it was fun to join in the Instagram fun.

October's recipe, Everyday Whole-Grain Bread, appeared to be a straight-forward, tasty bread. It is exactly as it appears. With a short sponge, great instructions, and almost sure-fire results, this is a great beginner bread recipe with enough flavor and texture to make a good daily loaf. I opted for the loaf pan option to be able to use it as a sandwich bread. I shared a loaf with my sister, and we ate the second loaf so fast, I have yet to try it in a sandwich. Hopefully today's second batch will make it to Monday's lunch. :)

The recipe calls for equal parts white whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. I made the first batch with equal parts KAF's artisan bread flour and unbleached all-purpose flour. Today's batch is equal parts artisan bread, white whole wheat and all-purpose flours. I think this recipe has the flexibility to adjust to infinite flour combinations, and I've seen reviews indicating others have used sourdough starter or gluten-free flours.

Find the full recipe on the KAF blog at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/everyday-whole-grain-bread-recipe. Join the #bakealong at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/bakealong/.


Dinner this Week - 04.17.16

It looks like I might be home more than gone this week so it was time to make a meal plan. Too many weeks have passed with Cheerios or chicken bites for dinner. With planting season upon us, a little extra planning will make sure everyone gets a dinner that doesn't rely on hot dogs.

Spaghetti, Apple Slices
Tacos, Oranges
George's Birthday Day!
Grilled Chuck Eye Steaks, Grilled Potatoes, Broccoli, Strawberry Shortcake
Lemon Garlic Marinated Shrimp, Rice Pilaf with diced carrots and onions, Oranges
Grilled Chicken Breasts with Fresh Mozzarella, Carrots, Strawberries, Garlic Bread
Saunders County Medical Center Benefit Picnic
Butterfly Pork Chops, Frozen Mixed Veg, Apple Slices


Dinner Tonight: Chicken Cacciatore

When I was at the grocery store last week, the in-store chef was demo-ing a whole array of yummies and one caught my eye ... or tongue, I should say. Her Chicken Cacciatore was a simple throw everything in slow cooker recipe that happened to work for me for an oven meal so I've included both procedures below. I did make a few modifications but the base recipe and inspiration are courtesy of Chef Maryanne from my local HyVee.

We had this over some cheese ravioli from the freezer but it would also be good over any pasta or rice.

Chicken Cacciatore

1 lb. chicken, cubed or cut into small pieces
1 can petite diced tomatoes (I actually only had whole Marzanos and they were great)
4-6 cloves minced garlic or 1-2 teaspoons of garlic powder
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. dried basil
1-2 tbs. flour or cornstarch to thicken
1 bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 medium onion, sliced
1 8 oz. package sliced mushrooms
1 cup chicken stock (oven method only)
Optional: 1-2 tbs. additional flour or cornstarch to thicken right before serving.

Slow Cooker: Layer all ingredients, as listed, in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours. Optional: Before serving, stir flour or cornstarch into 1/4 cup water and stir into mixture. Cook on high for a few minutes until thickened. Serve over pasta or rice.

Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Layer all ingredients, as listed, in a Dutch oven. Cover. Bake for 60 minutes. If you desire more thickening, move to a stovetop burner on high. Combine additional flour or cornstarch with 1/2 cup of cold water. Stir into the chicken dish and continue stirring until the desired thickness is reached. Serve over pasta or rice.


The Yoshiko Jinzenji's Modern Sampler QAL with the Salty Oat

Quite awhile ago I saw a post on Instagram advertising a Quilt-A-Long hosted by The Salty Oat for Yoshiko Jinzenji's Modern Sampler. The little picture on my phone looked so adorable I took a screenshot. A little bit later I found her post and got a little bit excited, excited enough that I bought the pattern. When it came, I selected and bought the solid background fabric. Then, I put it on the shelf to work on some swaps with nearing deadlines and some Christmas projects.

Over winter break (the University I work for banks some holidays from throughout the year so we can shutdown between Christmas and New Years), I opened it up and wanted to catch up on the QAL. Yikes! Twelve blocks with templates for itty bitty wonky pieces. Ugh! After I got over the urge to throw it in the trash and toss the six yards of Kona Smoke into my stash, I dutifully traced all the blocks on white butcher paper. I pulled leftovers from the OMQG's charity quilt to use for the scraps ... Kona Red, Kona Sunny, and Kona Capri. Fortunately, by being behind, I could read others' posts about their first blocks. My adventures with Blocks A through E follow. I should note that many blocks have the same borders. For consistency, I'm opting to do all the borders at the same time.

  • Block A is pretty straightforward half-square triangles so it went together pretty quickly. I actually haven't done a lot of HST's. Over the last few years when there have been many posts and projects using HSTs, I was fascinated by improv piecing and hiding my rulers in their shelf. A little Googling and reading and I was ready to cut and piece.
  • Block B gets a little more complicated. The original version of this block had 51 or 52 individual pieces in five neat rows. I opted to foundation paper-piece this block. In my first attempt, I tried to include all of those pieces. It was a bit wonkier than I wanted so in the second attempt, I combined some of the pieces that were going to be the same color. When it was finished, I realized it is backwards and that I should have traced it upside down. Fortunately, there aren't any words because we're going with backwards on this one. :)
  • Block C tosses in curved piecing. In completing my Shades of Grey Challenge Quilt last year, curved piecing and I came to terms. The tiny piece inside the handle seemed a bit small so I began construction by hand-piecing the handle and its center. Then I machine=-pieced the gray background around the handle followed by attaching the handle to the cup and, finally, the remaining background. The saucer and additional background strips were easy peasy.
  • Block D was back to itty bitty pieces sewn into strips. Back to foundation paper piecing. Have I mentioned that I don't particularly enjoy foundation paper piecing? Anyway. From the start, I combined like-colored pieces and am happy with the first and only shot at this block. I actually kind of like this block and could see making a bigger piece with it if I can figure out how to strip piece rather than paper piece the blocks.
  • Block E is a simple nine patch on a wonky point. I made the nine patch, aligned the squares with the template and trimmed. The first time I did this, I forgot to add a seam allowance around the outside edge so I made it twice for ease when adding the borders later on.

Now that I'm caught up with the Quilt Along (and actually a month ahead), I put it away again to focus on some other projects. I'll revisit it sometime in March. There is another great curved pieced block coming up and too many more that will likely be paper-pieced.

I am linking this post to The Salty Oat Quilt-a-Long for January and, because I actually sewed a little ahead, Salty Oat: modern sampler quilt along: block E link-up.


Under the Needle - Quilt Goals for Q1 2016

Last year the Omaha Modern Quilt Guild and the store at which we meet both had PHD challenges ... Projects Half Done. I did quite well at working through my list last year and have compiled a list for 2016. Right now, the list has twenty-eight items. Twenty-eight! Many of these are swaps I am already committed to, and I left four slots for swaps later in the year. There are also at least four big quilts. I've never made four big quilts in one year. We shall see how this goes. I've thought for a long time however, that setting high expectations are the best way to accomplish things.

As I've become a bit addicted to the quilt community on Instagram, I found @quiltalong's quarterly finish challenges for 2016. This post shares a few projects I have started and hope to finish by March 31, 2016.

  1. January's 2016 Birthday Fun Swap
    My hive mate with a January birthday loves gemstones. After all, diamonds are a girl's best friend. She also loves the palette of April Rhodes ... neutrals, coral and aqua. I was inspired to paper piece an aqua diamond on a linen background. It is pieced, sandwiched and edged but needs quilted and either bound or faced.
  2. Zipper Pouch Swap
    I have identified a pattern and pulled fabric, but we shall see how it evolves.
  3. Tula Jaybird Mini Swap
    Again, I've pulled fabric and selected a pattern, but have not started cutting or constructing. The fabric pull did garner positive support from other swappers in the FB group so I am optimistic.

There are a few more projects on the spreadsheet that need to be finished by the end of March, but they don't meet the Quilt-A-Long's definition of "started", yet. :)

I am linking this post to SLO Studio's Quilt-A-Long's Quarter 1 Call for Projects.


Dinner This Week - 01.10.2016

This week is a little mixed-up from what its original plan entailed. A family funeral substantially altered my trip to Western Nebraska for work so we might get to eat some o the things I planned last week and we didn't get to. A combination of unexpected sales at the grocery store (this always happens when I go somewhere unplanned and different) and changes in evening plans.

Ham, turkey or big roast tip: I like smaller cutting boards that fit in my dishwasher, but they don't collect the juices so I put the cutting board in a half-sheet pan to keep the mess contained.
Sunday - Intensive Effort
Baked Ham
Roasted Baby Potatoes
Green Beans
Apple Crisp
Monday - Soup/Sandwich/Salad
This week we have visitation for the funeral and Jr. FLL practice so I am not making a plan. Dinner out or leftovers will suit us just fine.
Tuesday - Slow Cooker
Ham and Beans
Wednesday - International
I'll be out of town so frozen pizza
Thursday - Leftovers (Refashioned, if possible)
Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
Friday - Grill Night
Leftovers this week.
Saturday - Dinner Out


Dinner this Week - January 3, 2016

So, I took a break from dinner planning, and our consumption of pizza, scrambled eggs and takeout for dinner has increased. Our consumption of vegetables has diminished. To kick of 2016, I want to get back on track.

To ease in planning, I like to have theme or category nights ... not too complicated so there is a guide, but still a lot of flexibility. Yes, we grill year-round. :)

Sunday - Intensive Effort
Lasagna plus extra for the freezer
Tossed Salad
Apple Pie
Monday - Soup/Sandwich/Salad
This week we have Jr. FLL practice so I'll make the soup on Sunday to be ready to heat as everyone is ready for dinner.
Turkey Cauliflower Soup - From The Pioneer Woman plus cooked, chopped turkey
Sliced Apples
Tuesday - Slow Cooker
Creamy Chicken Ravioli
Wednesday - International
Leftover Lasagna
Garlic Bread
Thursday - Leftovers (Refashioned, if possible)
USA Volleyball Tickets!
Leftover Soup
Sliced Apples
Friday - Grill Night
USA Volleyball Tickets!
Dinner out this week
Saturday - Dinner Out

Chicken Taco Bowls

We like all kinds of tacos, burritos, rice bowls, and quesadillas. To keep things interesting, we are always looking for new, quick filling ...