Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pasta Fagioli

We've had some below average temps for awhile, so I thought I'd warm us with a little soup.  The first time I had a Pasta Fagioli soup was at Olive Garden a looooonnnnggg time ago.  Later Daryl found a recipe online claiming to be O.G.'s but it doesn't taste the same.  It does however, taste wonderful!  I actually prefer this one over the restaurant's.  You'll notice it has a jar of spaghetti sauce.  I thought it was weird when I first made the soup, but it just works.  I think I've mentioned in previous posts that I don't like a brothy soup -- I like it chunky and hearty -- so here's my version of the recipe I found online years ago:
1.25 lbs ground beef
1 Tbl olive oil
1 med-large onion, diced
3-5 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 cans diced tomato
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
44 oz beef stock or broth
1.5 tsp dried basil (or italian seasoning)
1.25 tsp pepper
2 teaspoons dried parsley
24 oz jar spaghetti sauce
a few shakes of hot sauce
elbow or shell pasta
Brown ground beef in a skillet.  In 6+ qt dutch oven/stockpot add oil, onion, celery and carrot.  Cook about 5-10 minutes.  When ground beef is done browning, drain fat and add beef to vegetable mixture.  Add tomato, beans, stock. seasonings, pasta sauce, and hot sauce.  Bring to boiling, then simmer for about 45 minutes.  In a separate pot, cook pasta according to package directions.  Serve soup over pasta. 
~ Enjoy ~

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I call her Shelby

I started sewing about 3 years ago.  My neighbor Crystal wanted to make aprons and I said I was all in to help.  We had such fun picking out fabrics and patterns, but my only experience with sewing was helping my mom makes clothes when I was a kid.  She taught me all the basics and eventually I bought a starter machine to learn with. 

My first purchase was a basic Singer and the tension wasn't working right so I took it back (in hindsight it probably just needed adjusting).  Then I bought a Brother from Costco for $130.  All of the sewing items on this blog were made with that machine.  It's carried me quite far and I've learned so much since I started.  But, alas, it's time to upgrade.  Now that I've found my niche I just need more room to work.  The 4.5" throat (or opening from the needle right), was too small for many quilting projects.  Daryl can attest to lots of cuss words eminating from my sewing room.  That being said, the Brother is a great little workhorse piecing machine.

I've been saving money for a little while to purchase a new machine.  I bounced around between Husqvarna, Janome, Pfaff and finally settled on the Elna eXcellence 740.  She has a huge throat space, lots of stitches and came with all the feet and accessories I will need for quilting.  She sews smooth, takes thick fabric in layers really well and she purrs when she runs.

This year for Christmas we decided to visit my Mom in Arizona for some sun and warmth over Christmas.  Since we have 2 dogs, and boarding costs more than the airline tickets, we chose to drive.  Mom pulled off a huge Christmas surprise... the sewing machine I'd been saving for.  Holy cow!  I'm humbled by her generosity.  Daryl was a big help in keeping me from buying the machine when my salesperson called with a sale, and I'm told he did so much research he now knows more about sewing machines than he ever wanted to.  I'm excited to do more sewing!  Now a new learning curve begins!  Here's a picture of the two machines together....  Little Brother has a big sister, and her name is Shelby.  :)
Elna eXcellence 740 and Brother CE4000

~ Enjoy ~

Mug Rugs

I've been hearing a lot lately about mug rugs.  They are larger than a coaster to accomodate your beverage and a snack.  The other benefit is you get more design space.  :)  As a Christmas gift this year for a few friends and teachers I work with, I customized these to their likes.  They all vary in size depending on the design I went with.  I had a blast with a wonky cut batik, half dresden in batik, seahorses in batik, and Washington Huskies. 

The seahorses, WA Huskies, and half dresden were done with applique.  On the wonky cut I quilted in 2 flowers, one facing up and the other down so it's technically right side up no matter which way it's turned.  For the seahorses, I did a doodle all over quilting.  On the half dresden and WA Husky rugs I quilted by just tracing the object.

Batik Half Dresden Mug Rug
Batik Half Dresden Applique
WA Huskies Mug Rug
Washington Huskies Applique
Batik Seahorses Mug Rug with doodle quilting
Batik Seahorses w/doodle quilting
Batik Wonky Mug Rug with flower quilting
Batik Wonky w/flower quilting