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Finally finished my last oven mitt. I worked hard on finishing my ovenmitts for Christmas, but sadly finished all but one pair. I finished this pair at the end of January, but wasn’t able to drive to the post office till mid February. So they got severely delayed!

The pattern is from the book One Yard Wonders; Oven Mitt & Hot Pads, designed by Lelia Thell (page 62). I lined the ovenmitt with Insul-Bright, which makes them probably more heat-resistant than any pair bought in a store :).  I used the Caleb Gray, Robot Factory fabric in teal for the outside. I love this fabric! :)

Pattern: One Yard Wonders; Oven Mitt & Hot Pads, designed by Lelia Thell (book, page 62)
Cost:
between $3 and $7 a pair, and lots of hours of love and patience ;).
Fabric: cotton (outside) and Insul-Bright (lining)
Benefiting: my family

Now that Christmas is over and all the presents are unwrapped, I can finally post a picture of the massive amount of oven mitts I was working on the last few weeks. In total 8 oven mitts, 8 hot pads and 1 double oven glove.

The 5th of December is a big holiday back home in the Netherlands. It’s the day we celebrate Sinterklaas, more or less the Dutch version of Santa Claus bringing presents and/or Secret Santa between adults. In addition gifts are to be creatively disguised and usually accompanied by a poem teasing the recipient for well-known bad habits or past year experiences. It’s a lot of fun for old and young, and I’m glad we’re still celebrating it (even though due to time constraints and everyone leading a busy life, this year we will celebrate it during Christmas).

Traditionally each year my grandma bakes us dikke speculaas (a thicker sort of gingerbread) and cream puffs. Yummy for sure! Last year I asked Secret Santa to gift me my grandma’s ‘secret’ recipes and he did! So this year I didn’t have to wait for Christmas to arrive and baked my own speculaas.

It’s always good to give someone something you’ll enjoy most yourself ;). No, I’m kidding!

So what gift are we talking about? I gave my hubby a Cake Decorating Basic Course of 4x 2hrs at our local craft store :). We just had our second class today and so far it’s really fun! I actually think I’m not the one enjoying it the most ;). We’re truly learning a lot of things :). Funny thing is, as uptight as I’m with sewing, I’m totally not when it comes to cake decorating. My mouth really won’t see the difference :P.

My cake (on the right) is a bit too messy for my taste, though, but who cares?

I did learn another important lesson today; NEVER use cake mix from a box!! You know the ones were you only have to add water and some eggs? I swear I never used cake mix before, I always bake cakes from scratch and I never got why you’d use cake mix anyway, but then I saw it was much cheaper and quicker and as I didn’t plan on eating the cakes anyway….so I did end up using cake mix, baked them and tried a tiny piece and had a migraine for the rest of the day… Reminds me of the Dutch saying “cheap things end up being ‘expensive’ purchases”. Erm…yes. And the cake didn’t even taste good at all! T_T So yeah, I don’t understand why anyone would bake a cake using cake mix.


The inevitable mess…Icing everywhere! Please, don’t take a look at our kitchen right now…

sally-bee-prawnI won’t share many recipes on this blog, only the ones that M and I keep eating :).
This is one we love. It’s so easy and extremely quick to prepare (10min, maybe 15, if you’re as slow as me, but definitely quicker than ordering -and waiting for- a pizza!). I mostly have these items in stock as well, so, easy indeed :) (and I just leave out the watercress, and replace pecan nuts with walnuts or pine nuts).

It’s from the book “The Secret Ingredient” by Sally Bee (UK, USA). Her story is inspiring; she is a mother of three who at the age of 36, despite a healthy lifestyle, suffered 3 major heart attacks in the space of one week, due to an unknown major heart defect. Her road to recovery astonished all doctors’ expectations. “The Secret Ingredient” is a collection of easy and heart healthy recipes.

Prawn, Avocado and Pecan Herb Salad (serves 2)

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 salad onions or spring onions (scallions),peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove,peeled and crushed
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 uncooked king prawns (jumbo shrimp)
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Watercress
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Handful of fresh basil, torn
  • Handful of shelled pecan nuts

Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the chopped salad onions, crushed garlic, soy sauce, black pepper and raw prawns.
Sauté until the prawns have turned pink all the way through.
Arrange the salad leaves, watercress, avocado and tomatoes in a big dish, then pour over the prawns and other cooked ingredients.
Squeeze over the lemon juice, sprinkle with torn basil and pecan nuts and serve.

I’m working on some baby gifts, that I can’t reveal yet, so I thought I’d post a recipe :). This recipe is by Rachel Ray and it goes well with both couscous and rice. It’s a sweet dish and my versions never turned out even close to spicy, but I really like it and so does the hubby! :)

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), seeded, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
  • 12 dried pitted dates, coarsely chopped (~ 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup (a large handful) cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Preparation

– Preheat oven to 400ºF.- Arrange the squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat and roast in the hot oven until tender, about 30 minutes.

– While the squash is working, place a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the chicken to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown and almost cooked through, 6-7 minutes.

– Add the onion, dates, spices, bay leaf and cinnamon stick to the pan, and continue cooking until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Add the stock to the pan and bring up to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened and dates are plump, 5-6 minutes.

– Remove and discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick from the stew. Stir in the roasted butternut squash. Garnish with the cilantro or parsley and serve with Citrus Couscous alongside.

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