Saturday, October 29, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, 3 ways!

Oh gosh, I'm probably too late in posting this for most of you, as Halloween is the day after tomorrow so you've most likely already done all of your seed-roasting.  I promise to re-post next year in a more timely manner.

For some reason, I can never remember from one year to the next what I've done with pumpkin seeds that turned out well, and what failed.  So I seem to always go back to the drawing board when roasting my seeds.

This year, there were two things that I did before attempting any roasting/recipes.  They were:
1.  Soak seeds overnight in salt water.  Don't ask me how much salt--I just put enough water to cover (or float, actually), then sprinkled salt in.  Maybe a tablespoon for the 8 cups of seeds that I had?  No idea if that was enough, or too much--let me know if you know the right way to do it!

2.  Spread seeds out on paper bags to dry for a day.

So after we carved pumpkins one night, the seeds soaked in saltwater that night, then sat out drying the next day, then I began roasting after the kids went to bed that night.

I wanted a sweet/salty batch and a savory batch.  First up, the sweet/salty.

I chose this recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spiced Seeds, then proceeded to completely read the recipe wrong and do everything out of order.  I thought my seeds were done for, but lo and behold, they came out really well!  I did another batch where I followed the recipe correctly, and those were good too, but I secretly prefer my screwup batch.  Here's what you're supposed to do (copied directly from, the website I linked to above):

  • cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons sugar
  • tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. 1
    spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a large baking sheet and roast them in a 250 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the seeds are completely dry and lightly browned (large seeds may take longer).
  2. 2
    In a large bowl, stir together the pumpkin pie spice, the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar and set aside.
  3. 3
    Heat the oil in a large non-stisk skillet over medium-high heat,.
  4. 4
    Add the seeds and the rest of the sugar to the skillet, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts, about 45 seconds.
  5. 5
    Scrape the seeds into the pumpkin pie spice mixture and stir to coat.
  6. 6
    Allow the seeds to cool before eating and store in an airtight container.

And here's what I did (same ingredients, except that mine was a quadruple batch)

1.  In a large bowl, stir together the pumpkin pie spice, salt, and ALL OF THE SUGAR.
2.  Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add the seeds to the skillet, followed by the bowl of sugar and spices, stirring constantly with wooden spoons until the sugar melts, about a minute or so.
4.  Pour the sugar and seeds onto two baking sheets covered with parchment, and spread out into a single layer (which will be difficult because of the sticky sugar coating)
5.  Roast seeds in a 250 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Realize that they are nowhere near dried out and that you did the recipe totally wrong.  Decide to leave them in the oven anyway and just see what happens.  Stir them up every 15 minutes or so, taking a few out to cool so you can test them.  When they start to harden about 2 hours later, take them out and break up the huge clumps if you can, and allow to cool.

What you will have is almost like a pumpkin seed brittle.  So good, but they do take a really long time to roast.

On the left, the pumpkin seeds according to the original recipe.  On the right, my "caramelized" version.

On a more straightforward note, I made these savory pumpkin seeds, just like the recipe says, and they came out great.  They really have a nice rich butter flavor (most seeds use vegetable oils) that goes nicely with the garlicky/savory seeds--very umami, as my husband would tell you.

Mmmm.  Umami.

Finally, I made a smallish batch of spicy curry seeds. I just threw these together, no real recipe following involved, and I was pleased with the way they turned out.

1 cup seeds
2-3 Tb olive oil
2 tsp curry powder
1 Tb sugar
1.5 tsp salt

Combine olive oil and spices in a bowl and stir.  Add seeds and stir to coat.  Spread out on a cookie sheet and roast at 250 until dry and crispy (about an hour and a half).  Start to get impatient and turn the oven up to 350, then pull out quickly after about 10 minutes when you worry that you've burned them.

Let cool and store in an airtight container.
Almost burned spicy curry seeeds
So if you haven't roasted your seeds yet, give these a try!  I'd love to hear  your favorite recipes too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spirited Halloween Clothes!

Halloween is upon us!  And while we are saving our costumes for the actual day, there's no reason we can't show the world we're ready for Halloween with our regular clothes, right?  

Pumpkin carving with the buddies requires themed clothing, IMO.
First up, I made these baby legwarmers out of a pair of Halloween knee socks (LOVE post-season clearance for this type of thing!).  Same process I used in this post, if you're curious.

Then I thought that Little Sister would definitely need a black skirt to wear over the top of these.  In the olden days (like, a year ago) this would have meant that I would go find a black skirt to buy for her.  But not anymore!

I pulled this thing (skirt?  strapless dress?  we'll never know) out of a free box in our neighborhood this summer.  I know I've mentioned these boxes before--they are particularly prolific in these parts.  And while my husband is slightly concerned about using these items, well, free is a very good price.  Anyway, when I first found this I was thinking I might actually wear it as-is (as a skirt), but summer came and went and while I pulled it on a few times, it never really did it for me.  So to the repurposing box it went!

The top is shirred with elastic thread.
Since a few of the rows of elastic were stretched out in the top, I just cut them off--the jersey fabric won't fray, but you could serge the top if you wanted to I guess.  This left me a nice sized waistband.  I decided to use one existing side seam and cut the rest to the width and length I wanted.  You can always line up an existing piece of clothing to figure out where to cut, or even measure your child if you want to go crazy.  In this case I just eyeballed it.  Those elastic gathers are super-stretchy, so I knew it would work.

Existing side seam intact (shown running down the middle)
Then I pinned the opposite side together and sewed straight down the edge, leaving about a quarter inch seam allowance.  Then I zig-zagged it for some more stability.  It might be easier to zig-zag if you leave a wider seam allowance then trim it off afterwards.

regular seam next to the zig-zag down the edge
Before I hemmed it, I lined it up and trimmed off any odd parts, since I wasn't terribly precise when cutting it out.

Then I pinned a small rolled hem, and stitched it down.  In hindsight, I think I should have done a wider hem and a double-seam.  Because this fabric was so thin, the rolled hem wants to flip.  Oh well.

The finished product!  So easy.  Would have been even faster if I hadn't stopped to take all these pictures :)

The finished ensemble, complete with the "I'm so cute it's scary" tee picked up post-season last year.

Oh look, my little pumpkin.  Wait, what's that on my finger?  Wah, there's paint on my finger!

Well, but I couldn't find any cute boys' Halloween shirts half-off last year, so at the last minute I decided to make one.  This black shirt with white long sleeves had been in my "to-applique" box for a while, and I thought it might finally be the right size for The Boy (wrong, it's still too big, but oh well, it will last him several Halloweens!)

I thought cute little ghosties would be fun, so I cut them out of a free onesie we got from the library.

I cut holes out for eyes and mouth, so the black of the shirt showed through.  Then I zig-zag stitched the outlines, and did a straight stitch around the mouths and eyes.

This guy was my favorite.
Here it is in action:
Very scary.

I was happy to have festive children for the occasion.  And everything except Little Sister's t-shirt should fit again next year!
The crowd for pumpkin carving

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mens t-shirt to boys shirt

There was a time when I bought clothes for my husband. Sometimes I tried to buy things with a pattern on them, or a different fit than he usually wore, in an attempt to style him up a bit. These things ended up either going back to the store, or more likely, sitting in his closet gathering dust. One such item was this striped t-shirt. Daring, I know.

Shirt, unworn by husband.
I always liked something about this shirt, so I never got rid of it.  I finally was inspired to make something for The Boy out of it!  I'm going to attempt a tutorial here, since I couldn't find exactly the method that I ended up using online.  I did reference a few "big tee to fitted tee" tutorials, but I did mine a bit differently.

I didn't feel like making a pattern, so I just used one of The Boy's t-shirts as a template for this project.

Big shirt is inside-out here, although it really doesn't need to be yet.
I usually try to reuse the hems on things that I repurpose, but this time around I thought that the neckline was the bigger challenge.  The head-hole was actually only a tiny bit bigger on the big shirt, so I just decided to keep the top of the shirt intact.  However, the shoulders (and the rest of the shirt) needed to be narrower, so I just cut the sleeves off to reuse them, and cut the shirt up the sides.  That way, I didn't have to resew the neckline or shoulder seams.

T-shirt all prepped for repurposing
Then I went to my template shirt to figure out how big to make it.  I eyeballed the curve for the sleeve opening based on the template shirt on one side, then folded the new shirt in half to make sure I cut the curve the same shape on the other side.

eyeballing the curve

folded in half so I could cut the other side
Next, I folded one of the sleeves I cut from the original shirt in half.  I wanted to reuse the shirtsleeve hem in this case, so I lined it up with the template to figure out how big to make the sleeve.

Again, I used the first piece that I cut out to line up and cut the other sleeve piece, so they would match.

One sleeve on top of the other
Aaaand we're done with the template shirt now.  Next, I stitched the body of the shirt up the sides (inside out, of course) and also folded the sleeve pieces in half (inside out as well) and sewed a seam up the bottom.  Next was attaching the sleeves.  Now that I've attached sleeves several times, this process makes sense to me, but it's a hard one to describe and always seems a bit confusing.  Here's what you do:

1.  Turn the body of the shirt inside out.
2.  Turn the sleeve RIGHT-side out.
3.  Place the sleeve inside of the body of the shirt, lining up the raw edges of the opening.  The cuff of the sleeve points towards the middle of the shirt, and the right-sides of the fabric are together.

This sleeve is all set to slide into the body of the shirt.

See the raw edge of the sleeve poking out?  Now you line those raw edges up and pin 'em.

4. Then pin those raw edges together and sew around the armhole on the machine!

Now, since this is a t-shirt, I wasn't planning to iron the seams flat (I know, I know...lazy!)  but then I realized I needed to iron the hem, so I went ahead and ironed the seams flat too.

Nice and flat
For the hem, I folded the raw edge up once and ironed it, and then again, so it would be nicely finished on the inside.

Pretty easy to iron a straight line when you can just follow the pattern on the fabric.
Then, I hemmed the bottom.  You could just sew one seam, but I like to do two, especially on knit pieces, because it mimics the look of a "real" t-shirt seam.  I don't have a serger (or even a double needle), but I like the way this looks, and it's easy to keep the lines straight just by keeping your original seam lined up with the sewing machine foot.

So there we go!  All done, right?

A finished shirt...
Except not, because I thought it would be fun to make an applique out of some of the scrap fabric.  I used the backside, and a contrast thread in a zig-zag for fun.

So now, all done, right?

How about now?
Well, I still can't leave quite well enough alone, so I decided to trim out the neckline in the zig-zag too.  I'm really happy with the way it looks, for an easy embellishment.

Details, details
And now, for real, the finished product.  I wonder if I'll be able to get the boy to wear it?

He refused to model it for me, so here it is on a hanger.  Sigh.
You could totally use this method to resize a baggy t-shirt into a fitted ladies tee--just use a shirt that fits the way you want it to for your template, and start snipping!

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rainy Day Art!

I found this fun art project here, and since rainy days have not been in short supply we tried it out.  So cool!

You just drip food coloring onto card stock, then set it out in the rain and watch the rain splatter the drops.

We brought it inside, let it dry, and now I just have to decide what to do with it!  I think it would be cool to mix some food coloring shades and do the drips in a more deliberate shape, or you can embellish your splatters like in the tutorial I linked to above.  I'm thinking of bright colored mats and simple frames, then hanging them in the playroom.   Other ideas?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Finally getting back to that food list...

A couple of weeks ago I started telling you all about some of the recipes I have been trying lately.  Well, I hope I can still remember what I wanted to tell you!

Have you ever made eggplant parmesan?  I never remember until I'm in the middle of the process what a pain in the rear it is.  Why do you have to do SO MUCH to an eggplant to make it edible?  Well, the end result of this eggplant parmesan was really good, but I really wish that I had more eggplant so that I could have prepared a bunch of extra eggplant to freeze for another batch of eggplant parmesan at a later date.  That's really the time-consuming part, and once your eggplants are ready to go this is totally easy.

One bonus about this recipe is that you can also use the sauce for other things.  Instead of canned tomatoes, I used fresh tomatoes from our garden mixed with the oven roasted ones I talked about in that other food post.  I also added a little red wine as the sauce reduced.

One bummer about this recipe is that you really only need maybe 1/3 of the amount of breadcrumbs it calls for. This was disappointing, because I made a bunch of breadcrumbs from crusts that I had frozen, but I didn't have quite enough and had to supplement with storebought breadcrumbs, then I mixed in my parmesan and spices, and--had tons left over.  So if I'd just stuck with my own breadcrumbs I would have been fine.  Oh well, I used the leftover to make these pork cutlets, which also turned out really well.

Blast! I could have sworn I took pictures of my eggplant parmesan, but it turns out I didn't (or they are buried somewhere in my photo files beyond my search capabilities at this time).  But it pretty much looked how you would expect.

Now I DID take pictures of this one, because it was so darn pretty.  I saw this recipe for apple bread braid, and I just love the way it looks!

But making bread seems pretty complicated and time-consuming to me, and I've been loving the results of using frozen bread dough, so I thought I'd try it out with this recipe.  It worked like a charm!  And this was a fun recipe to have the boy help out on--he was great at folding the bread strips over, and he loved painting the glaze on when it was done baking.  I'm going to try this same braided method to make a calzone using pizza dough.  I'll probably skip the powdered sugar glaze on that one.

Speaking of this frozen dough:

I also made a loaf of cinnamon-raisin swirl bread.

Just roll it out, sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, and reconstituted raisins:

Roll up tightly, sprinkle top with more cinnamon sugar, and bake!

More specific directions can be found here:

Hmmm, what else?  Oh yes, the Ham, Gruyere, and Roasted Tomato savory bread pudding.

The recipe calls for roasted red peppers, but I didn't have those, and (have I mentioned these yet?)  I had the oven-roasted tomatoes that I made so I threw those in instead.  I've made this twice now, and the second time I didn't bother wilting the spinach like the recipe says to do, and it was just fine.  Also, I used a swiss/gruyere blend (pre-shredded, thank you Trader Joe's!) and that also worked out.  Just make sure to avoid the processed "gruyere"--yuck.  I got a laugh out of the directions that start with "preheat the oven to 375," followed by "mix your ingredients and refrigerate overnight."  I think I'll wait to do that preheating, thank you very much.

This dinner was very kid-friendly.  It also had a distinctly breakfasty vibe, because of the egginess + ham.  Would work well for a brunch.

Anyhoo, I think that's it for today's recipe reviews--I will get back to you on the rest of that list at some point!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

T-Shirt Refashion: Ruffle-sleeve toddler dress!

I think I told you the last time I refashioned a t-shirt that shirring with elastic thread is addictive; well, here's proof!  I made another old t-shirt (well, two actually) into a shirred dress for the girl.  This one was quite an adventure.  I tell you, whenever I work on something after my sewing curfew of 11:00, problems ensue.  That curfew is there for a reason!

Let's start with the finished product, shall we?
Hooray!  It turned out okay in the end!
So here is the story of how I ended up here.

It all started with a cute easy refashion from Prudent Baby, that involved my new love of shirring.  I saw this darling t-shirt turned baby bubble tank on Pinterest at about 9:30 last night, and thought, "That looks quick enough to whip out tonight!  I'm doing it!"  However, I like instant gratification, and being that it is fall, I didn't want to make a sleeveless top and then put it away until next summer (if it ever comes).  I thought I'd add some long sleeves so that the girl could wear it tomorrow--easy peasy, right?

So I picked out this shirt that I never really wore, and a different color shirt for the sleeves, and started snipping.

 First, just like the tutorial told me, I cut the top off of the t-shirt and made it into two trapezoids.

The first sign that it was too late at night--refusal to measure, resulting in a crooked line cut across the shirt.  Not to worry though, there was plenty there still to make two trapezoids that were fairly straight across.

Because I planned to add sleeves, I cut the little curves out of what would be the armpits of the dress before sewing up the sides.   Instead of shirring the top all the way around like the tutorial says, I just shirred the front and back panels above the armholes.

Now I was ready for shirring the waistband.  This time I got wise and measured out a line so my waistline would be straight across the dress--see my pins?  By this time I had decided that I wasn't going to cut off the bottom of the shirt, so I was making a dress instead of a bubble tank--sort of a hybrid between the bubble tank and this two-minute t-shirt dress I had made (and adapted) once before.

Next was to make and attach the cute little ruffle straps.  My plan was to attach the sleeves afterwards, so the straps sat over the top of the sleeves.

Ready to go!
However, there was a problem.

What's that you say?  Those sleeves look pretty darn skinny?  Well right you are!
I knew I'd have to wait till morning to try it on the girl and be sure, but my instincts were telling me that 1.  the sleeves were too small and 2.  the sleeves were pulling the ruffles down so that they became off-the-shoulder, not exactly the look I was going for.  The morning fitting proved my instincts correct.

So, off came the sleeves:

I cut out new sleeves that would fit,  and new ruffles to make a cap sleeve over the top of the existing strap, hoping it would pull the sleeves in closer together so they wouldn't fall off the shoulder.  I really had no idea how this was going to go, worked out, I guess.

I don't have pictures for this next part, since I was scrambling to get things finished during naptime, but here's the rundown (skip the next two paragraphs if you're not really interested in how to recreate this for yourself):

I turned the dress inside out and the sleeves right-side out, and placed the sleeve inside the dress (so the right sides were together).  Starting by matching the seams at the armpit, I pinned the bottom part of the sleeve to the dress and sewed that section closed.  This left the top of the sleeve and the strap flapping.  I then turned the whole thing right-side out and started pinning the ruffled strap to the top part of the sleeve.  The ruffle was a lot bigger than the sleeve, so I just tried to bunch it evenly before sewing--you can't really tell because of the shirring.  When attaching the ruffle to the sleeve, I used regular thread, not elastic.

I then shirred the second straps (the new one I cut out of the blue fabric) exactly the same way as I did the first ones.  BUT then I added one more row of shirring along the bottom hemmed edge of the strap.  I lined this up with the gathered part of the purple strap (bunching it just like the other time) and sewed it down, this time using the elastic thread.  Then I switched back to the regular thread and stitched the straight bottom edge of the strap to the shirred bodice of the dress and did the same at the back.  Then I repeated all o fthis for the other side.  Man, I am realizing how terrible it must be to read this without pictures.  I do apologize.  I was totally making this up as I went.

The blue cap sleeve sewn over the top of the purple ruffle strap
So, the finished dress.  I was a little worried that the double-ruffle situation would end up making her look like a little linebacker:

But she's the cutest little linebacker I know, so I think we'll just go with it!