Friday, June 22, 2012

Daily Dish - Cottage Pie

You probably know this dish as Shepherd's Pie, which is what the dish is called when the meat used is either mutton or lamb (strangely logical no?)  I made it with beef, which is traditionally a Cottage Pie - probably because that is better than it being called a "cow pie".  ;)

Anyway, here is my super simple (but tasty) recipe!

For the filling:
1 lb ground beef

1 medium onion (diced)
1 carrot (diced)
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp Butter
1 cup beef broth
Worcestershire sauce
Nutmeg, oregano, paprika, salt & pepper

For the mashed potato:
4 russet potatoes
Butter, milk, salt & pepper
Cheese (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • In salted water, boil the potato (chopped into smaller chunks) until soft and easily pierced with a fork, approx 10 minutes.
  • While the potato is boiling, brown the ground beef in a pan with salt and pepper.  
  • Once the beef is browned, add the onion and carrot along with a sprinkling of each of the spices (to taste)
  • In a separate pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter
  • Once butter is melted, add the flour and mix.  Then add the beef broth to the flour/butter mixture and stir until smooth. 
  • Put Worcestershire sauce into the gravy mixture.  I use about 2 tbsp, but I was eyeballing it so adjust according to your preference!
  • Pour gravy mixture onto the beef and vegetables, then add the frozen peas.
  • At this point, the potatoes should be about done, so drain and mash them. 
  • Add butter, milk, salt & pepper to the potatoes according to your preference.  I like my mashed potatoes to be smooth and buttery.
  • Spoon the beef and vegetable mixture into a baking dish.  (I used ramekins designed for personal portions, but you can also use a medium sized baking dish).
  • On top of the beef, add a layer of the mashed potato.  Even out the top with a fork so that the meat is all covered. 
  • We love adding cheese to things in our house so we elected to sprinkle some shredded cheddar on top.
  • Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the top of the potato is lightly browned and crispy.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Daily Ramblings - Guess what?

Yes indeed!  We had our 20 week ultrasound scan yesterday where we got to hang out with the little one for a good half hour while a specialist poked, prodded, measured and checked Peanut (although the name doesn't seem quite so fitting anymore - he's grown quite a bit!)  Great news is that he's a healthy little guy who was rolling back and forth, stretching and generally seemed to be enjoying himself.  The other great news is that I wasn't required to have a full bladder for the screening - which would have been tough enough without being pregnant! 

It was truly the most amazing thing to see all the various body parts, the heart beating, tiny little feet and hands.  She even turned on a cool blood flow thing which showed the way the blood was moving through the umbilical cord, the heart, etc. We're talking a baby, who is really only about 10" long, on a 42" flat screen!  I think husband was having a great time getting to "meet" his son (still weird saying that) for the first time in such a way.  It's even better to have the whole thing on DVD so I can take another look any time I want. 

I've had my suspicions all along that Peanut was going to be a boy.  What I discovered that old wives tales are just that and paying any attention to them was the only thing that may have made me think this baby was anything BUT a boy.  So, my random craving for pancakes and the breakout in the middle of my forehead really have no bearing on gender, in case anybody was wondering.  What is interesting is that in my husband's family, we have an entire generation of boys - in fact enough for a basketball team (although not enough players to have anybody on the bench).  Statistically, you'd think there should be a girl in there somewhere, but it seems that the Y chromosome is strong with our bunch!

Regardless of the big gender reveal though, I can't describe how happy I am to have a healthy baby, and to have a clean bill of health myself right now.  Soon enough, the little jabs and flutters will likely turn into full blown punches and kicks - I really can't wait!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Daily Craft - 4 onesies in 4 minutes

A couple of years ago, I received some iron-on owl appliques in a swap.  Back then, before child was even considered, I thought they'd be super cute on onesies.  I even bought some onesies thinking I could make them for a baby shower gift or something...and then promptly forgot about it.  Fortunately, I found everything last weekend while organizing all my craft supplies, and it took me approximately one minute per onesie to make these.  I think the total cost is less than $5 too, which makes me want to find more cool iron-ons to make more with.

Gotta love the bright colors on Peanut's new playmat too - a super cute hand-me-down from our nephews.  I'm sure these are the first of many photos with that as a backdrop!   

 Meanwhile, my other accomplishment this week was happily donating over 10lbs of yarn to various knitters and crocheters who make things for charity.  It feels great to make the space, but also know that the yarn is going to worthy folk who will create wonderful things for those in need.  I'm definitely feeling like I'm nearing the end of my organization endeavors and quite proud of how much room I've created.  Based on the various hand-me-downs I've received in the last week alone, the need for storage capacity will be dire soon enough!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Daily Craft - Coming along nicely!

3 hours into knitting the baby blanket, I'm really quite thrilled with my choice.  After getting over the fiddly beginning with only 8 stitches, several double pointed needles, and feeling a bit like I'm all thumbs - this is now proving to be a super quick knit.  Thank you no purl stitches.  I'm thinking all blankets should now be knit in the round so that you can eliminate purl stitches altogether and just whip in circles. 

I'm also pretty psyched about how the colors look together.  The dark color in the picture is actually more of a pine green, and I think the combination is a good one.  I'm following the stripe design from the original pattern (sort of), but incorporating 6 colors instead of 5.  I think I'm going to love it.

I should also give two very big thumbs up to the yarn.  This is my first time working with Plymouth's Dream Baby, and I gotta say that as an acrylic/nylon blend, this may actually sway even the most particular yarn user that not all acrylic yarns are bad.  It is SO soft that just want to curl up with it.  I've heard that it just keeps getting softer with washing too.  Soft and functional?  Sold. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Daily Craft - The great blanket debate

As my parting payment from sample knitting with Plymouth Yarns, I opted to get a bunch of baby yarns.  I got some Dream Baby DK, Jeannee DK, and a fun textured yarn, Whitney.  All in neutral colors of course, seeing as we have another 2 weeks before I go in for my anatomy scan and find out gender.

What's up with this poor kid's head
being super-imposed on here?!

One of the things I intended to make is a knit blanket...but my search for a blanket ended up being quite complicated with thousands of patterns out there to choose from!  With 6 coordinating colors, I wanted something that would be fun and show off the colors nicely.  In the end, I narrowed it down to 3. 

I did somewhat fall in love with this Honeycomb Stroller Blanket - which looks amazing in bright, bold colors (thank you Ravelry!).   The pastels in the pattern photo do NOT do this justice.  I decided against it for now though as I want something that looks nice on both sides and didn't feel like dealing with adding a backing fabric to a knit piece for now.

I also considered the Bright Blocks Blanket pattern (pictured left, courtesy of Lion Brand). I really like the woven look of the squares, but I've not done a ton of entrelac and I feel like I'm looking for something that won't take forever to do and I don't have to pay much attention to.  Yes - I'm aiming for a good quantity of knit items while I still have the time to do it! 

My final decision?  I've opted to make the Constant Baby Blanket, which will be a nice square blanket, worked from the middle out using simple stitches, but will show off stripes nicely, while being a good mindless (and quick) knit.  Time to cast on...  :)