Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Loving CooksCountry.com

As if I need more reasons to cook, I bought an online membership to Cooks Country. I figured since I got loads of mileage out of their main site—Cooks Illustrated—that I’d try this one website out too since I lovey love love their TV show. Here are some of the amazing yummies I’ve made in the last few weeks.

Chicken Noodle Casserole. The whole fam damily loved this dinner. No cream of chicken soup here! I did use milk instead of half-and-half to make the cream sauce and think I will always make that healthy substitution as it was fabulous with less fat. (Gotta fit in my swimsuit for Hawaii.)


Blueberry Pie—with frozen berries! Adding a grated apple adds plenty of pectin to thicken the filling otherwise I’m sure the frozen berries would’ve made a watery mess. This is by far the best recipe ever, but then again, I love fruit pie. Love. I try to only bake desserts on the weekends (see above swimsuit comment) but it’s so hard with recipe like these!


For the crust I used their regular pie crust recipe for a double-crust pie, not their vodka version. I am fresh out of Vodka, or any booze since I don’t drink. But I really would like to try it since they swear it proves to be the most tender and flaky crust. My crust is rustic and ugly on the edges, but tasty folks.


Others tried but no pictures, sorry, click on the link for the picture though.

Make-Ahead Lemon Cake Mix: Same texture as a box mix but with that delicious, fresh homemade taste.

Fresh Pea Soup: Delish and healthy and 20 minutes. Mmmm

Arrabbiatta Pasta sauce: My favorite (and healthy!) Italian sauce for pasta—peppery and fresh tasting, and from canned tomatoes!

Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake: Good grief, super fast, super easy with a simple glaze instead of frosting. Everyone loved it.

It kinda bugs me that America’s Test Kitchen has three different membership sites for all their recipes—Cooks Illustrated, Cooks Country, and America’s Test Kitchen, but that annoyance dissipates whenever I try one of their recipes. (I still wish they had a 3-for-1 deal on all their sites.) But their recipes have changed the way I cook these last 10 years—every recipe is a winner. I’d never try a free recipe from the web (insert Pinterest)  before first doing a search to see if ATK has formulated their own version.

P.S. Forgive me for not giving out these recipes—it’s just too much work to imbed PDF documents for all these recipes. Especially when they are easily found at the links I’ve given. Yes, you gotta buy a membership or try a free trial. But I’ve decided you get what you pay for. You can disagree with me but I’m a happy customer.

Piano Recital

Every May my kiddos perform in their piano recitals. I just love their teacher pictured here—she’s also my teacher! (I decided a few years ago I wanted to really polish up my piano skills too.) My son doesn’t look happy to be there, and well, guess what. He’s 15 and isn’t. Oh well. He’ll thank me someday right?

My girls were excited to wear their new skirts I made them over the weekend. Nathan had to be bribed to wear a shirt and tie—I stood in line for him at the social security office today for a loooong time. (He needs a new SS card  so that he can get his driver’s license. So yea, I poured on the guilt: “You owe me Nathan—please wear a shirt and tie to your recital with no complaints.” There were none. Phew!



As you can see above, only one child memorized her music. I can sympathize. I don’t have one single song memorized anymore. Well, that’s not totally true. I can still play a few songs memorized as a kid 25 years ago (Bobcat Boogie and Fur Elise). But if I learned the song in the last 3 years, nope, ain’t got nothing upstairs.

Afterwards we celebrated with shakes and onion rings at Iceberg in Orem. Nobody complained about that portion of the evening.



Here’s to ice cream and piano lessons!

Burda #9489


My girls are getting old enough (12 and 9 yrs) that they want regular skirts—not just pull on elastic-waist ones. Do you know how hard it is to find fitted skirts with zippers for girls? They’re still too small to use women’s patterns so I’m left searching the big girl’s patterns. Trust me, they are few and far between. If I was a pattern drafter, I could make a lot of money by designing patterns for tweens. I hate that word “tween” but it is really is the easiest way to describe this  middle age for girls—too young for teens/women, too big for girls. Thankfully Burda has a tiny handful of patterns for tweens.

burda 9489

Like most Burda patterns, it is well drafted and the directions are easy to follow. I followed the directions for the yellow skirt but didn’t even need them once I made the black polka-dot version. I love that this skirt has a yoke and belt loops. The gathers make it nice and full since the pattern is meant for lightweight fabrics. I used 100% quilting-weight cottons.


On the above skirt you can see that I eliminated the pocket trim which is purely decorative. The below skirt has a gray linen for the pocket trim. I used stitch #412 on my sewing machine, Bernina 830, to trim the gray linen. I think it looks like flying butterflies. So cute.


The one thing I need to figure out is why once I install the zipper the yoke left and right do not match up anymore, as seen in the below photo. Drives me crazy.


I did lengthen the skirts considerably. About 3”. I made both girls a size 12. I would also add that if you make this skirt wrap the yoke around your daughter before you sew it on because it might be too small if your daughter isn’t a skinny little stick. I’m glad I did this because I ended up cutting a wider yoke for the black skirt. My two girls have completely different body types. It was an easy fix to cut a wider yoke—didn’t affect the skirt at all—just gather a little less to accommodate the wider yoke.

All in all I loved this pattern and will use it over and over for the next several years with my girls.


By the way, the ties are just scarves from my closet—I need to buy them some belts now! And their adorable button-down shirts are from Lands End.


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