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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Recipe - Hugging Chicken Pot Pie

Hi everyone!
No I don't mean you should hug a pot pie! Although please send pictures if you do try! ;) Do you ever have the feeling that some dishes make you feel like you've just been given a great big hug? I just made the BEST comfort food ever that really made me feel hugged. I've tried this before and it came out sort of ok except for the top and I really wanted to make this again. So this time I tweaked it a bit and oh my word was it wonderful! I'm all excited about it :) The original recipe came from here so make sure you click there too to see the original idea. I only made some small adjustments anyway and I just had to share this with you :)

You need:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 leeks, chopped
  • 4 regular sized potatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup single cream
  • 4 chicken fillets (either leftover or fresh)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. If you are using fresh chicken fillets (or any other chicken), cut in small pieces and fry until done. Then take the chicken out of the pan and put aside. If you are using leftover chicken, continue to step 3.
  3. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, and cook the onion, celery, carrots, leeks, and potatoes until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley, thyme and flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour coats the vegetables and begins to fry, about 5 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth and single cream, and cook until the sauce is thick and bubbling. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and mix in the chicken meat.
  4. Transfer the chicken, vegetables, and sauce into a 2-quart baking dish. Cover your dish with the puff pastry, making sure to leave holes to let the air out. Decorate as required with leftover pastry.
  5. In a small bowl, beat egg yolk with water; brush egg yolk on the biscuits.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown and the pie filling is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
And when it comes out of the oven, it should look something like this! 


The bf actually stopped what he was doing and 'wow!-ed' when he saw me taking this out of the oven :) *proud smile*


Close up of the decorations. The heart shape was the only cutter handy at the moment LOL

It was so yummy! Am still feeling all cuddled :) I dont have any pics of the inside though as photographing food with lots of green in it and carrots and making it looks appetizing is not my specialty really... But take my word for it: it was delicious!

Small tip for everyone who is just as silly as me with regard to puff pasty (this was my first time using the pastry as a cover rather than a bottom of the dish): make large slits in the pastry. I made several smaller slits in it but as the pastry cooked, the dough expanded and the holes were no more. This caused the heat to build inside the dish and suddenly it heard a boom-like noise and some of the dish had exploded on the side of the dish. Nothing major, the sound was worse than anything else, but I wont do that again! Maybe I should get one of those birdies to put inside the pie? Anyway, wanted to share this tip with you.

AND we ate this while watching the Great British Bakeoff on telly which made it all the more fun :) It was a 'good bake' *proud smile*

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Hobbit Second Breakfast at Work

Hi everyone!
Have you all heard about the Hobbit's Second Breakfast event today? Well, if you haven't and you're anywhere but the USA at the time of writing, chances are you are too late (doesn't mean you can't have a do-over tomorrow though) but it is a ton of fun. Especially since I seem to be very Hobbit-like according to some of my friends due to my obsession with food ;) And no, not because of any hairy feet! Hihi...

75 years ago today, The Hobbit has been released. In order to celebrate, a worldwide event appeared online as a tribute and in honour of the book. And the hobbit way of life (eat, drink, and be merry) or so I would like to think. The idea was that anywhere in the world, at 11am sharp, people would have a second breakfast in honour of the Hobbits. Don't mind if I do really, who am I to refuse a second breakfast!

So I got up early, having to be at work early today anyway, and bought supplies for the office. Sadly I didnt have a chance to print up the banners etc shown on the event website, but I had printed off a piccie off the internet as decoration in the background. 

I brought croissants, pain au chocolat, chocolate and blueberry muffins (not homemade, I just didnt have the time!) and juice. Not a bad selection if I say so myself :)


I had informed the team who of course had all forgotten about it again this morning so they were pleasantly surprised with this free brekkie. Some of them even started before 11! But it was the thought that counts anyway :) I had my normal brekkie at about 8ish when I started work and then the 2nd one at 11am. Which technically would make an elevensie, but those are just details ;)


This was so much fun though that it just had to be shared! It also meant that I didn't need lunch or dinner really with all that food, how do those Hobbits do it?! But it was much appreciated nonetheless :) Did you do anything for Second Breakfast today?

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Recipe - Rhubarb Banana Pie

Hello again everyone!
This year will not see a lot of Halloween projects on my blog I'm afraid... No, am not ill or anything, I just don't have the time and have a lot of other projects to finish as well. Plus, how much Halloween stuff can a person have in the their house? OK, on second thought maybe I am ill. LOL. Well, let's see what happens. It would be weird for aHalloween fan like myself not to post about Halloween. I'll see what I can do ;)

This recipe is not Halloweeny although given its colour I'm sure it could be used for it :) It's a Rhubarb Banana Pie and it tastes wonderful. I got the recipe here but it didn't have photos so that needed to be remedied. Good thing I baked this pie then!

You will need:
  • Pastry for 2-crust pie
  • 3 cups sliced fresh rhubarb, about 1 pound
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut in small pieces
Instructions:

Prepare pastry for pie crust.
Roll out half of the pastry to a 12-inch circle and line a 9-inch pie plate. 
In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, bananas, sugar, orange juice, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
Spoon mixture into the pastry-lined pie plate and dot with butter. 

Like so, doesn't it look yummy?

Roll remaining pastry into an 11-inch circle for top crust. Place over the fruit filling, seal, and flute all around. 

 My fluting needs work really, but it's not too bad. Six of the hearts have a different colour but those were from the first batch of pastry and were a little warmer (ah so this is what happens when you leave it out of the fridge!)

Bake pie at 450° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake 30 minutes longer, or until pie is nicely browned.

So pretty! And see, the six 'warm' hearts are much lighter in colour. Lesson learned...

Cool banana rhubarb pie completely. 

Once cooled, slice...

And eat! 
Granted, this piece looks a bit like an angry dragon, but it was so yummy!

I can definitely recommend this recipe if you like rhubarb, so go on and have a try yourself. And be sure to let me know what you think :)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Halloween Quilt - The Cut

Good morning everyone!
I've done it, I've finally started!!! You may or may not remember this and those of you who have been following my (admittedly recently very quiet) blog, but years ago I decided to start a Halloween quilt. I went everywhere to buy fabric and possible went a little overboard. Over the years I've managed to buy fabric at several markets and shows in London, Britex in San Francisco, Joanne's in Providence, and even a cute little quilting shop in Salem. Oh yes, I went everywhere... But I never actually got my mind set on a specific design or anything so it never got started. 

Last week I went to my weekly sewing/knitting group and a friend of mine was there and we got talking about the Halloween quilt. When I got home I really wanted to get started so on the weekend I got out all my fabrics (sadly I don't have a piccie of the pile at the moment) and started cutting, having finally made up my mind about the design. 

Of course me being me, things did not go without any hickups and last night I realised that I had added some fabrics in the last months and I couldn't remember if I had washed all of them. Oops... I know the older fabrics had all been washed so what to do? Especially since I had cut a lot of squares already (well, rectangles really). I decided to not take any chances and wash all the 'doubtful' fabrics immediately, even the cut squares. I had enough leftover in case of a disaster (this is why I always buy way too much LOL) so it couldn't hurt, I would just lose some time. And let me tell you, I am so glad that I washed them! Out of about five or six fabrics I wasn't too sure of, only three shrunk so I'm delighted that I found out just in time :)

I only have this one photo for now, but these are some of the smaller squares. I'd paired them up and then needed to unpair them again to find the ones I wanted to wash. It's looks way messy right now, but more fabrics are in the stash not in the pic. I'm so excited I am finally doing this!

I'm not entirely sure how long this will take me though as I am still cutting the rest of the smaller 'squares' tonight and then have to cut all the borders before Saturday as I want to get the sewing started on the weekend. The cutting is really boring... but I know I'll have to just be patient and work my way through it. Not sure if I'll be able to finish this before Halloween though.

So this is another WIP, along with my Spooky House cross stitch which I will also share with you shortly as I've made some good progress over the last few weeks. Hopefully I'll be able to post more about the quilt soon!

Monday, 17 September 2012

A LOT of WIPs

Good morning everyone!
Just a quick note to let you all know I'm still here... I've just started a massive project that's been in the planning for about 4 years so hopefully I will be able to share it soon :) At least the start of it that is. Other than that some projects are done but still need to be photographed, and others are done and waiting to be posted.
So watch this space for more posts soon :) In the meantime, have a great Monday everyone!


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Thames Festival 2012

Heyhey everyone!
Wow, can you believe how much I am blogging right now? I figure once I get all the events out the way, I can start the crafting posts again (and meanwhile take pics of projects to share without you noticing too much LOL). 

As mentioned in yesterday's post, once I got back to London I went to the Thames Festival. Always great fun although this year not as great as previous years as some things were missing. But still a great day out :) I wouldn't have know about the Wenlocks if I hadn't seen them there! As it was an amazing day, I got some really good pics too. Not so much of the actual festival but a lot of London. Especially since I, once again, got lost... 

 London's newest addition, The Shard. Very Dark Crystal I have to say... The first time I've seen it that close so nice chance for a piccie. Also the starting point of walking in the wrong direction...

 I managed to walk away from the city rather than towards it (laden with shopping you must know) and ended up at this harbour. Quite cute with lots of boats with flags and stuff.

 Finally have found the way back and spotted this fantastic sundial. Shame about that guy in the background, otherwise this would have been a marvellous pic, but that can't be helped now. At least I'm going in the right direction! Honestly folks, 7 years and still getting lost...

 Crossing Tower Bridge. I just love Tower Bridge, it makes me feel all fuzzy about London :) 

 And I was in luck, the whole day the sign was up and just as I was leaving the area it came down :) So I might not have a pic of the bridge with the Olympic sign, but I definitely have one with the Paralympic sign!

The 'Harry Potter' bridge aka Millennium Bridge. I think Bridget Jones also crosses it at some point in one of the movies. And one day, so will I. But not that day, it was too warm and too crowded. Next time :)

A quick dinner at Herman ze German for a yummy Currywurst. I must go by there more often really :) Next stop was a friend's bday party and then home at last.

And that kind of concludes the weekend :) Sunday was more Wenlocks obviously, lunch, and Parliament Hill which was laden with Londoners enjoying what was probably the last of the sun for this year. It was a good weekend though, and I really needed one of those, no cold and no stress, whoohoo! :)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Prima Homemade The Creative Stitches & Hobbycrafts Show

Hello again :)
As part of my busy weekend, I went to the Prima Homemade The Creative Stitches & Hobbycrafts Show in Bluewater. That's in Kent and quite a way away. But the public transport is quite ok and all I needed was a tube, a train, and a bus to get there. Not as bad as it sounds. Once I got there, I managed to get lost but the girl at the information desk kindly helped me find the right entrance (for the 2nd time!) and I made it in. The show had two parts and two floors and for unknown reasons I decided to enter via the top floor. Maybe it was because the costumes were calling me because the next thing I saw was:


Movie costumes!! OMG I nearly cried. Yes I am that silly... the reason? On the far right of the four dresses on display is the Ever After dress worn by Drew Barrymore in the movie. I LOVE this dress, especially the wings and to be so close to it now and to see the details... I must have taken 20 pics of this dress alone... 

Isn't it gorgeous?

 AND I could finally see how the wings were attached. Am so trying this next time I need to make wings! Though am not sure if this will survive the plane, but one can always try.

 
 Carlotta's dress from the Phantom of the Opera movie was also on display. Purple of course so I was all over this baby too :) The other two dresses were nice but these were my favs. Plus I didn't want to overload you with pics! 

Of course there were goodies also, the usual mainly, but I did spot this fantastic sign. I love it!

There was lots on display as well and loads of different crafts, including this and I don't really what it is made of. I did read the sign but I've forgotten what it said..

 
 
 I also loved this item display by John Lewis. Check out the purple sewing machine! only GBP 99 but for the total beginner... sooo tempting though! LOL

Some quilts were shown as well, gorgeous as always of course

But the BEST was this knitted garden. Everything was knitted: the chair, the basket, the food, the plants, the plastic bottle, everything!

 There was also a small allotment section and they even knitted a garden path!

 
There was so much detail! Here is a closeup of the amount of detail that went into this garden. It was so amazing!

Once I had seen everything and bought some nice things (sorry no pics this time, but I only bought some ribbon, some wool for a winter scarf, some cotton quilting fabric to finish some projects, and some beads for jewellery so I was very good in the non-overbuying), I headed back to London. Should have been easy right? LOL, well it seemed to be a day of getting lost and I didn't realise that the shuttle bus went beyond the train station so I didn't push the button and ended up 5 miles in the wrong direction! So I got of the bus (much to the amusement of the local teenagers of course) and had to wait for a bus to get back to the train station. Luckily that only took about 15 mins and the sun was out but I was still feeling silly for forgetting to push that button! But I made it back ok and finished the day with a very long walk along the Thames for the Thames Festival, but more about that later!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Wenlocks, Mandevilles, and a Very Late Start

Hello again everyone!
I had a wonderful weekend :) Maybe I shouldn't say that just yet as not to jinx it, but so far so good. I had an extremely busy Saturday and Sunday which is way too much to pack into one single post so I have to split it up as of course I have to tell you all about what happened. The most important thing first of course, which sadly is also the most annoying thing. 

As you may know, London hosted the Olympics and Paralympics this year (no really??? LOL). And as part of the touristy thing, the City of London placed several statues of the Olympic mascots around London for people to find. Kind of like the egg-hunt you might think. Noooo I thought, surely there are only a handful and I won't have to hunt for those as I'm not a big fan of the mascot anyway (sorry, the Australian ones were just much cuter in my mind). WRONG!!! It was EXACTLY like the egg hunt and really cool! Only I discovered this YESTERDAY. Yes, yesterday. How annoying is that?! Clearly very to me as I am typing in capital letters... 

You see, yesterday was the Thames Festival. I only spent  few hours there, but managed to find some spontaneously along the way. After about the fifth I started to realise that this was really exactly like the egg hunt. Once I got home I googled some info and of course, today (9 Sept) is the last day that the statues are up. Oh joy... So I left early this morning and went to Regents Park with my trusty map downloaded from the MOL website and started hunting the (sadly only) 11 Wenlocks there. In total there are 86 statues over 6 routes, but 3 routes were closed today because of the marathon, and 2 of the three remaining routes were in tourist central. In the middle of tourist season and the final day of the Paralympics? No thank you, I'll stick to the park. So I had a lovely stroll through the park and spotted some Wenlocks and Mandevilles. I don't know all the names, at least not of those that I ddin't find with a map, but below is the result :)

Beefeater Mandeville

 Pirate Wenlock

Sherlock Wenlock

Deckchair Wenlock

Rose Garden Mandeville

Midsummer Night's Dream Wenlock

Birdy Wenlock

Safari Wenlock

Victorian Wenlock

Animal Wenlock

Regency Wenlock

Rainbow Mandeville

Union Jack Wenlock (at least I ended in style with a true Team GB Wenlock!)

 
I found parts of Regent's Park that I've never even heard of before...

Afterwards the bf and I met up with some friends in Camden and went to The Diner for some breakfast. Pancakes of course for me :) Don't they look yummy?

I would have loved to do the Wenlocks and Mandeville hunt just like I did the egg hunt but as today is the last day, I can only hope that another hunt like this will be organised soon. And that my brain is functioning enough to actually participate in it this time! 

I hope you liked this mini-tour anyway, it was alas the best I could do. But I still haven't told you about the rest of my weekend, it was so exciting! Watch this space :)
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