We spent Sunday dragging out both the interior and exterior Halloween decorations, including a full graveyard with fence and our revamped witch silhouette. We have our outdoor decorations up and perhaps excessively electrified, so much so that we found several neighbors standing and staring in front of our house later that night. The rest of the house is decked out, and just when I was wondering if all these decorations were worth a full day’s effort, the neighborhood kids went absolutely bananas. Nothing like squeals of “How cools is that?!?” to remind us why were are those crazy holiday people. We still have a few finishing touches to accomplish, but I am thrilled that we made my October 1st goal.
Meanwhile, I whipped up a quick gift for G-man that will be tucked into his stocking. It’s a basic ribbed hat with colors inspired by The Legend of Zelda, G-man’s favorite video game. I tend to stick with quick, basic knits for the boys, because as middle schoolers, their tendency to misplace things is legendary. No need to add any more angst to already overly angsty kids. Don’t let the pic fool you, as Bear is the model since this is a gift. He’s much smaller than G-man, which means this hat will fit him like a proper beanie.
Pattern: Hot Head from the Stitch & Bitch book, size medium
Yarn: The green and brown are Bernat Softee Chunky while the yellow is Loops & Threads Charisma
Needles: 10 1/2, both circular and DPN for crown decreases
Notes: Modified pattern to knit in the round instead of flat/seamed. Only used three colors instead of four, so stripe placement was random to my preferences, using the stripe key as a guideline. Only light steam blocking as the pattern’s negative ease doesn’t really require much.
Right about the time I cleared the last overdue work off my calendar, I declared myself caught up for first time since June. Of course, it only took 5 minutes for my next manuscript to land in my inbox. However, I carved out time over the busy weekend to finish up this hat. It’s more fitted than the pattern depicted, which other knitters noticed as well. Regardless, it’s another cozy knit to add to the cold-weather wardrobe box.
Pattern: Gone Glamping by the Plucky Knitter
Yarn: Berroco Comfort Worsted in 9716 Blue colorway
Needles: 6 for the ribbing and 7 for the remainder of the hat
Notes–I would have added another repeat or two of the cable pattern for the more slouchy look that the hat seemed to have in the pattern pictures.
My sister’s birthday was this weekend, and I cooked a big meal in her honor, complete with some of her favorite foods and a towering chocolate peanut butter cake. Since she loves lamb, I decided to make these little beauties which are always a hit. I love this recipe when entertaining because I can marinate the lamb the night before, and with a fast grill time, I have a stunning yet deceptively easy meal ready in a flash. Lamb, in years past, hasn’t been readily available in my little corner of Louisiana. However, now most grocery stores and Sam’s Clubs carry it. I still miss those big, bone-in legs of lamb we used to get when we lived in California, but at least we are no longer completely denied.
Maple-Mustard Grilled Lamb Chops
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 racks of lamb
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut lamb racks into individual chops. If your butcher will do this for you, go for it. Place lamb chops in a large, resealable zip-top bag.
- Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, whisking well. Pour marinade over lamb, shaking bag well to coat. Place bag in a large bowl (just in case it leaks), and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Turn the bag occasionally to ensure even marinating.
- Remove lamb from bag, discarding marinade. Salt and pepper both sides of the lamb chops. Grill over medium-high heat until desired doneness, 3-4 minutes per side. You can serve these as an appetizer or an entrée.
The leftovers make great sandwiches. I smeared some of the cheesy, twice-baked potatoes on one of my husband’s toasted homemade onion rolls and topped it with the lamb. I’m obscene like that. Don’t judge, it was dang tasty.
I finished this scarf/shawlette last week using yarn I picked up while we were in California earlier this summer. Despite the fact that the temperature is still hovering right around the dark side of hell, the fall knitting bug has hit me in full force. I keep my current project next to my laptop, and barter with myself–For every half hour I stay on task with my current article, I get to take a five minute break and knit a row.
I already have a stack of patterns I’m just itching to get to, as well as fall decorating and baking and all of the other things I want to be doing. But alas, until I catch up on work, I’m stuck daydreaming about cooler weather, rainy days, and expanding my yarn budget.
Pattern: Common Bean by Caitlin French. It’s free on Ravelry.
Yarn: Malabrigo Mecha in the Arco Iris colorway. This yarn claims to be bulky but I honestly think it falls more toward the Aran side.
Needles: Size 10
Finishing: Wet blocked and pinned with a fair amount of aggression.
This cake is an older recipe, but is one my husband loves to make it when he is puttering around the kitchen. Y’all know me, any cake with hooch in it is a thumbs up. However, this really is a good, fast cake recipe that elevates the lowly box mix into company-worthy dessert.
Chocolate Kahlua Cake
- 1 box Devil’s food cake mix
- 1 pkg instant chocolate pudding mix (5.9 oz) (the larger box!)
- ¾ cup Kahlua
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup Kahlua
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, or spray it with the nonstick spray that contains flour (Baker’s Joy, Pam with Flour, etc.).
2In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, Kahlua, water, oil, and eggs with a hand mixer. Blend on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes more, until batter is thick and smooth. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan.
3) Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45-47 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Remove cake from pan and place on cake plate or platter
4) Place powdered sugar and Kahlua in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Spoon glaze over warm cake, allowing it to drizzle down the sides and into the center. Cool completely before cutting.
I am really trying to work on that whole gratitude concept. Even during this worst summer ever, I still found grace in small things every day. The rational side of my brain also knows that I am blessed beyond measure, with a wonderful family, a safe, happy home, and the security of knowing that we have everything we need. I know this. I really do.
But then, some a$$hole just had to get enterprising and clone my debit card. Ya know, the one that has never left my wallet and is still in my possession? How he or she accomplished this feat is beyond me, but card cloning seems to be surging in my little corner of Louisiana. This oh-so-lovely person then went on a shopping spree at Marshall’s two days before my mortgage payment was due.
Now, I know I should be looking on the bright side. The bank will give the money back (eventually), and my mortgage company will wave all of the late penalties (after I jump through burning hoops of fire to prove that this, in fact, really happened). But right now, I’m just selfishly wondering if we could just catch a dang break. Did I mention I’m sick too?
So yeah, I know it could be worse, and I’ll get over my tantrum soon. But seriously, Marshall’s? If you were going to drain my bank account, you could have at least done it on something better than cheap clothes! Talk about adding insult to injury…
Summer weather is still strangling Louisiana, but I’ve declared it to be fall in this house. Even my husband said he’s itching to bust out some seasonal décor, so I bet I know what we will be doing this weekend. I spent part of today test-driving a candied jalapeno recipe (which will make great holiday gifts), and will start frying chicken for dinner shortly. Technically, I probably should spend this time tackling the overwhelming pile of projects from my clients, but that would require mojo that is decidedly absent today. There’s always tomorrow, I guess. Meanwhile, in honor of the return of pumpkin spice everything, here’s a recipe y’all might like for jumpstarting your autumn kitchen.
Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Pie
- 1 frozen deep-dish pie shell or you can use homemade or refrigerated pie crust
- ¾ cup canned dulce de leche
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbs vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
- Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, toffee bits
1) Place pie shell on cookie sheet. Spoon dollops of dulce de leche into piecrust, spreading to edges. Place prepared piecrust in refrigerator.
2) Whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in pumpkin and next 7 ingredients until smooth. Whisk in milk. Pour filling into prepared piecrust. Bake at 375° on bottom oven rack for 48 to 50 minutes or until pie is just set (center will still jiggle just slightly). Cool completely on a wire rack. Garnish, if desired, but do so immediately before serving.
We had a quiet, yet very fun holiday weekend. My husband set up the waterslide on Saturday, and let the neighborhood kids run wild while I canned the last crop of jalapenos.
I had inadvertently let the most recent crop of jalapenos turn red on the bush, which was a first for me. However, I wasn’t going to let them go to waste even if I was worried about how they would perform. The resulting jelly turned out fine, and seemed maybe slightly spicier than the original version. I read conflicting opinions on the internet as to whether jalapenos are more or less spicy as they mature, so I’d say you just have to try it yourself to decide. If you do want to test a red jalapeno for spiciness, I’d suggest a recipe with a small amount of jalapeno to compare, and not some bold experiment like bacon-wrapped red jalapeno poppers. Better safe than tongue-burned. Unless you’re a weirdo, and are into that kind of thing.
Sunday was fill of fun times with family (and good food), while Monday was grilling with the neighbors followed by a quiet afternoon of movie-watching with the kids.
It was the symbolic end of summer, and I am so very past ready for cool weather and the fun traditions of fall. I just hope the weather takes a turn for the better soon, because this burning heat sure sucks all of the fun out of September. Summer, you’ve overstayed your welcome, and it’s time for you to go now.
My husband stays I have to wait a couple more weeks before breaking out the fall decorations. We’ll see who wins that one, won’t we?
After plowing through a gazillion loads of laundry yesterday, not to mention the who-knows-what I mopped up from the kitchen floor, I decided to make a well-earned dinner to take the sting off of Monday. After all, discovering that one of the kids left more Kleenex in his pockets, via a paper explosion upon opening the dryer, was a call for a pick-me-up. I originally saw this recipe on Food Network, and it sounded incredibly bizarre. The honey and lemon seemed just unusual enough to ensure that these would either be really tasty, or a big, fat, Nope. They ended up as an amazing combination of flavors and textures, with each element bringing a perfect balance to the dish. I have adapted the recipe since then, and it’s the perfect side dish when you want something a little different and just a bit decadent.
Crispy Potatoes with Leeks, Lemon & Honey
- 2 lbs fingerling potatoes or small yellow potatoes
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1 leek, halved, thoroughly washed and sliced up to pale green part
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- Zest of 1 lemon
1) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Gently poach the potatoes for 10 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with a fork. You don’t want them to be completely mushy or they will fall apart when you try to pan fry them. Drain the potatoes, cut in half, and dry thoroughly.
2) Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Melt the butter, add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
3) In the same pan, heat the olive oil. Put the potatoes cut-side down in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes; flip and repeat on the skin side. Add back the leeks, drizzle with the honey and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
4) Sprinkle with the parsley and lemon zest. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
I finished these slippers this weekend, after putting them away for a few weeks. I originally started them when Mom was first admitted to the hospital. I thought she would love some toasty, Ugg-inspired slippers to wear as she recovered. After she passed away, I didn’t have the heart to work on them, but I finally picked them back up on Saturday and sprinted to the finish line.
Here’s the details:
Pattern Name: Little Red Riding Slippers by Drops Designs. The original pattern was poorly written, so after searching Ravelry, I found rewritten instructions for both the main slipper and cable cuff.
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick Solids. Spice colorway. Required two full skeins plus a little more from a third. I made the largest size so the smaller sizes could probably get by with two.
Needles: Size 10 DPN.
Overall, I liked the way these turned out, and they were a quick, fun knit. Since I am not a fan of the yarn, I would probably select something else next time. However, as a rule, I buy bargain yarn for slippers as you really do have to factor in the wear and tear element.
Next on the knitting docket is something just for fun with a beautiful yarn I picked up on vacation earlier in the summer. However, I did spot a pattern for adorable pumpkin dishcloths this weekend that may be calling my name too.
But alas, it’s Monday. You know what that means, right? My house looks like a tornado ripped through it and I was hit with a rush job from a client first thing this morning. Guess I better get to work, because contrary to popular opinion, the fairies don’t keep this circus running.